This week’s readings are centered around electronic literature and video games as avenues for DH inquiry. I was interested to see some examples of electronic literature so I went over to Twine (twinery.org) to get a firsthand look at the kinds of things writers have been producing. At the bottom of the page they link to sample works and I opted to give Aleks Samoylov’s “Composition in a Minor Key” a chance (I had first been tempted by “Ashes” by Glass Rat Media but there was a warning for sexual violence–hard pass). “Composition in a Minor Key” was created in 2014 and bills itself as “surreal interactive story about love, community, loneliness” (Samoylov, 2014). With little prior experience of electronic lit, this seemed to me like a hybrid of a 90s-style choose your own adventure game and a printed Choose You Own Adventure book. The illustrations are rather primitive, digitally speaking, which adds to the retro feel of the work.
After a number of turns the ending becomes unlocked but I didn’t get that far. The story seemed to have several dead-ends, which required going back and navigating to alternate routes, which I found frustrating.
Something that did intrigue me were the tags associated with the work on the Interactive Fiction Database (ifdb.tads.org). I clicked through to look at the most popular tags (sorted into a sort of word-cloud) and the list of all the tags used (helpfully alphabetized). Without creating a log-in it was hard to tell if this list was exhaustive (and controlled-language — a taxonomy) or if users could create new tags (a folksonomy). One of the tags for “Compostition” is CYOA — Choose Your Own Adventure — and another was retro, both very appropriate.
I was also interested in learning how media like electronic books and video games are preserved by archives and went to the Library of Congress page on digital preservation for the Preserving Virtual Worlds project. Without reading the 195 page report, I thought I could get some more information from the linked project website (http://pvw.illinois.edu/pvw/) but, ironically, the site no longer seems to be supported as I couldn’t get the page to open. This is perhaps because PVWII began shortly after the publication of the PVWI report. (https://ischool.illinois.edu/research/projects/preserving-virtual-worlds-ii). From the limited information available, the objectives of PVWII seem to be similar to PVWI, though PVWI set out to develop basic standards for metadata and PVWII intends to explore how existing metadata standards can be used for long-term preservation. Sadly, the PVWII website is also no longer supported (http://pvw.illinois.edu/pvw2).