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Bill Bly's Traversal of We Descend

This traversal of Bill Bly's We Descend took place on Friday, January 31, 2014 at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), located in the Hornbake Library,  at the University of Maryland.

For the traversal we used the floppy disk version of We Descend running on an Apple SE computer from MITH's collection of vintage computers. Handling the videography for this Traversal was Skizz Cyzyk, from Zinniafilms, who used three different cameras to capture the event. One camera was set on top of the computer in order to tape Bly's face as he looked at the screen and spoke. Another was set in the corner of the room and aimed at the screen in order to capture the screen action. A third camera was a hand held camera used to capture the audience and action taking place in the room. All of this data was edited into one raw file and then divided into smaller clips for the project. The commentary for the videos was written by Grigar.
Bly Traversal, Part 1, "Loading the Links"
This video clip shows Bly loading We Descend on the computer and talking through the work's introductory elements. He points out the default reading path and the "three principle bands of time" that the story encompasses. Also of note, we learn that the work is 895 KB in size and includes 598 spaces and 864 links.

Bly Traversal, Part 2, "Nuts and Bolts"
Bly talks through the "Directions" of We Descend, which he describes as "very detailed." He explains the difference between a "text link" and "basic link" and provides an excellent description of what we used to refer to as the "Tinkerbell keys" (re: magic keys) that revealed the hidden hyperlinks––that is, the Command + Option keys.

Bly Traversal, Part 3, "Scratching the Surface"
In this video clip Bly explains the "Inventory" and the seven archival writings that comprise it. He reads through two lexias, "Epigraph" and "Catastrophe," and points out some of the features of Storyspace, like the character limitations in the titling of works and the way it allowed for backspacing (Shift key + double-click on Arrow tool). 

Bly Traversal, Part 4, "Traversing Through the Descent"
Bly continues the reading begun in video clip #3. Here he reveals the conceit of the work––that is, the multiple main characters inhabiting the multiple bands of time––and focuses his reading on the time period featuring Egderus Scriptor of Mountain House.


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