Rebooting Electronic Literature, Volume 2: Documenting Pre-Web Born Digital Media

Interview with M. D. Coverley about "Califia"

This Interview of M. D. Coverley's Califia took place on xxx in the Electronic Literature Lab. [Fix this :It was performed by Nicholas Schiller, Associate Director of the lab and faculty in the Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. The Traversal documentation includes three video clips of the performance itself along with introductory comments and the question and answer session with the audience that followed the performance. For the performance we used a Macintosh SE (circa 1987) running System Software 6.0.7 and a copy of the work from Grigar's collection. Schiller rehearsed during the weeks leading up to the event. Handling the technical setup on YouTube was Greg Philbrook, the Creative Media & Digital Culture program's technical and instructional assistant. All four of the four research assistants––Vanessa Rhodes, Mariah Gwin, Veronica Whitney, and Katie Bowen––oversaw the social media engagement and photographed the event.]

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 1
The interview with M.D. Coverley starts off with Coverley speaking about how she feels about Califia. She says that “it’s an event to see it” and she feels a sense of joy because of how delightful it was to create the work such as writing the text, taking the pictures, and going on excursions to the Indian caves. Coverley notes that the work also brings back the remembrance of how fun it was to be involved with hypertext in the ‘90s. Dr. Dene Grigar brings up how it’s like a utopian vision because of how new and fresh the media is even after twenty years. Coverley agrees and discusses that computer-based electronic arts keeps rapidly evolving compared to film, television, and radio. Next, Dr. Grigar asks where the inspiration for Califia came from and if Augusta’s voice is actually Coverley’s voice. Coverley answers by saying that she isn’t Augusta’s voice, but in some sense it is her voice. She also notes that she always thought of herself as a writer and she was always interested in multiple voice narration and layering.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 2
The Q&A interview with M.D. Coverley continues. Dr. Dene Grigar and Coverley discuss how hypertext worked better for the work than print would have. Coverley notes that she taught herself everything she could to do the work such as photoshop and sound editing. Next, Dr. Grigar asks what Coverley is doing now with the new affordances such as virtual reality. Coverley says that she sees all of the affordances as the same because they all have something in common than electronic literature does with print. The new technologies also still requires the same kind of vision and thinking to create art and a story.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 3

Dr. Grigar asks how many hyperlinks Coverley remembers making. Coverley answers by saying that there’s about over 90,000 links. Next, Grigar asks Coverley if she would’ve used a different tool to create this work. Coverley answers by saying that she started using Storyspace before switching to ToolBook. Coverley adds that ToolBook was a useful system for database retrieval narrative authoring system, but by the time Califia was released, ToolBook was sold to another company and the company didn’t have a backward compatible version of ToolBook; therefore, Coverley wouldn’t be able to re-save her works.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 4
In this video clip, Coverley discusses her experiences with multimedia hypertext in the mid 1990s. She notes that when Califia first started, she could only use 256 colors. Next, Grigar asks how Coverley planned out the schema in Califia. Coverley answers by saying she has been thinking about doing it for a long time. She mentions that there are always making recursions and re-telling old stories, and her stories that related to California inspired her to make Califia such as gold, airplanes, and land-buying. Next, Grigar asks about the parting images of the moving footprints going out to the shore and how it relates to accepting the way things are. Coverley answers by saying that it represents making your own path and that it was very hopeful.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 5
The Q&A interview continues and Coverley notes that people loved Calvin the most out of the three characters. Next, Grigar asks about the moon and the Big Dipper, and how the Western culture sees craziness involved with the moon. Coverley answers by saying that she associates Kaye with the Sun, moon, stars, and that Kaye has the new age of California wisdom. Next, Grigar mentions the colors associated with each of the three characters, and Coverley adds that each of the journeys also had a different color: the journey west had gold, the night of the bear had a dark purple, the journey east had a light purple, and the journey south had a blue. Next, Grigar and Coverley discuss about the innovation with multimedia and having to re-think textuality and finding new ways to make things work.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 6
In this video clip, Coverley notes that it is much harder to establish the authenticity of a voice in electronic media than it is in print because we already have a disbelief. She also notes that it was hard for her to distant herself from the characters as the authorial presence. Next, Coverley discusses how Deena Larsen influenced her writing and she hopes that her own writing influences others. Grigar asks about having an audience reading Califia and Coverley answers by saying that she was lucky to have sympathetic and supportive readers. She also mentions her smart and intuitive editor who made a lot of changes between the 2.2 and final version of Califia.

Interview with M. D. Coverley about Califia, Part 7
In the final clip of the Q&A interview with Coverley, she states that without Dr. Grigar’s lab and Pathfinders, she wouldn’t have been able to access the digital copy of Califia. Grigar notes that authors of printed works get to cheat death and that it’s harder for authors of digital works to cheat death unless they find a way to archive and preserve their works. Next, Coverley says that when she started using ToolBook to write Califia, she thought more people would be using it. She also mentions that both preservation and archiving need to be pursued. Dr. Grigar asks her last question to Coverley about how Califia relates to paradise and the bittersweet sides of California and Coverley answers by saying that one thing that she loves about California is that one hardly can go to California without hearing that they just missed out on paradise.

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