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

Reader Interview with Amber Strother about M. D. Coverley's "Califia"

This Reader Interview with Amber Strother 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.]

Reader Interview with Amber Strother about M. D. Coverley's Califia, Part 1
Following the traversal, the cameras turn and Dene Grigar asks Strother about her reading experience with Califia and how it differs from reading other media-based works. Strother answers by saying that she could interact with Califia and choose her own story. She also saw Califia as more pleasure reading than research. Dr. Grigar mentions that electronic literature is a long-form writing and is on a desktop, and asks Strother if Califia was similar to a gaming experience than a literary experience. Strother says that electronic literature has more freedom and more of a “choose-your-own-adventure” than books do. Dr. Grigar asks about what inspired her to go in the direction that she did in the work and Strother says that she’s a completionist and wanted to click every link within the narrative to get every information to construct the characters. Next, Dr. Grigar asks if the pictorial maps gave her any idea of direction. Strother comments that the pictures were neat and liked how it brought in actual events and actual people, but she was more drawn to the text and wanted to know more about the story. With Califia being a long-form writing, Dr. Grigar asks how much percentage Strother thinks she has seen of the work so far. Strother says 3% of what actually exists and that there were a lot more to click on that she didn’t get to, and even though she was focused more on the characters, she notes that there’s a lot more to the story than just the three characters.

Reader Interview with Amber Strother about M. D. Coverley's Califia, Part 2
In the last part of the interview with Anna Strother, Dene Grigar asks how her experience with reading the work on a vintage computer impacted her. Strother says that she remembers when no one had a computer and that when she graduated from high school in 1997, the Internet was a big, new thing. She also notes that her experience with using the computer was normal and that it took her back to when she used them in college. Dr. Grigar mentions Victory Garden by Stuart Moultrop and how the work was also created during the same time of the machine itself. Next, Grigar and Strother discuss the authenticity of reading Califia on a medium that it’s meant for and how different it would’ve been if it was available on other mediums. Next, Dr. Grigar asks what Strother thought of Califia being California as an island. Strother says that she didn’t process that thoroughly and how it seems like an alternative geography to her. The clip ends with Dr. Grigar noting that there are over 3,000 screens in Califia, and with Strother's final thoughts on Califia.

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