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

Traversal of Deena Larsen's "Samplers"

The Traversal of Deena Larsen's Samplers: Nine Vicious Little Hypertexts took place on Friday, November 9, 2018 at 12 noon in the Electronic Literature Lab. Larsen, who had come to the lab to work with the ELL Team on the documents and media she had donated to the Electronic Literature Organization's archives, performed her own work. For the Traversal we used the CD-ROM version of Samplers on an Apple iMac G4––known affectionately as the "Lampshade" (2002-2004)––running OS 10.3.9. Handling the sound production was CMDC faculty member and sound artist John Barber. CMDC’s tech guru Greg Philbrook, along with ELL Team member Moneca Roath, handled the live stream production. ELL Director Dene Grigar oversaw the project, and ELL Associate Director Nicholas Schiller supervised the social media interaction during the event, with the ELL Undergraduate (UG) Researchers manning ELL’s Instagram and Twitter channels and Pathfinders’ Facebook account.

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Introduction

This video starts by playing the official new trailer for the Pathfinders project. Dene Grigar gives introductory comments to the live stream Traversal of Deena Larsen’s Samplers, and welcomes the online audience and the members present within the room. Grigar notes that this event is funded by the Buchanan Grant by the Washing State University and also introduces the workers in the Electronic Literature Lab. She then introduces the Electronic Literature Lab affiliates and ends the video after introducing Samplers author, Deena Larsen.

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Part 1
This video clip starts by beginning the live stream Traversal of Deena Larsen’s Samplers. Larsen begins her Traversal by describing the digital cover of Samplers displayed on the screen. She notes that the nine different quilts, and “each of [them] is a highly structured story” that is based on the pattern on the quilt. She starts off by reading one of the hypertexts, "Devil’s Claws," before going onto "Firewheel," which is located in the middle of the nine quilts. She mentions that "Firewheel" also has a fire burning in the center of the quilt and the quilt “is extremely intricate with links”. While reading "Firewheel," Larsen shares that the link in the top left corner is actually “a bug in story space that allows you to choose default links”.

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Part 2
In this video clip, Larsen continues to read and analyze the work of Samplers. Larsen mentions that on the CD-ROM version, the Directions story doesn’t work, so she decides to follow the default route. She starts reading through Firewheel and hits “enter” instead of clicking on the link so she can remain on the default route. After finishing "Firewheel," she clicks on another quilt and starts reading "Caught On," which Larsen notes is her favorite in the work.

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Part 3
In this video clip, Larsen reads through another quilt called "Century Crossing." She shares that the Storyteller story is a true narrative that she wrote. Larsen also mentions that as she was programming the work, there were a few bugs that she ran into. She then goes over two more quilts, "Mystic Knots" and "Seed Voices."

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Q & A, Part 1

This video clip marks the beginning of the Q&A session. A member from the live audience, Kathleen Zoller, asks Deena Larsen about how she was able to put links onto the quilts. As Larsen answers the question, she also shares that Mark Bernstein, publisher of Eastgate Systems, didn’t recognize what she was doing until he debunked it and realized that she was telling a story with the links. A member from the online audience, Will Luers, asks Larsen if she uses Storyspace and link structures in the mode of the character. Larsen responds with “each of the structures do correspond with the characters, plot, and direction”. Richard Holeton - who is in the online audience - asks Larsen why she didn’t use the Storyspace map view in the work. Larsen says that the Storyspace version has "Seed Voices" in the wrong colors, which makes the story inconsistent.

Deena Larsen's Traversal of Samplers, Q & A, Part 2

This video clip documents the final part of the Q&A session for Deena Larsen’s Traversal of Samplers. A member from the live audience asks Larsen about her inspirations for her fictional stories. Larsen responds by explaining her inspiration for each of the quilts. She shares that for "Firewheel," she did go to the bonfire and lived in a haunted house in Japan for three years. A member from the online audience asks Larsen about the Mac floppy-disk version. Larsen says that “the only version you should ever read is the Mac version”. Dene Grigar goes on to note that the ELO is collecting electronic literature works so they can be available for people to look at online or in the lab. The Q&A concludes after Grigar thanks Larsen and the audience.

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