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

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's "True North"

Stephanie Strickland's Traversal of True North took place on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in the updated video and sound studio associated with the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University Vancouver. The Traversal was held on Tuesday instead of Friday because Strickland also planned to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference that was scheduled at the same time. Because she is more comfortable with PCs, we used the CD-ROM version of True North on the Compaq computer. She also wanted to perform parts of the web poem version of "To Be Here as Stone Is," so we set up the G4 iMac (aka the "Lampshade" Mac) for it. Though an audience was present in the room during the event, the Traversal was also live-streamed on YouTube to an online audience.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Introduction
The Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North was performed on the campus of Washington State University Vancouver. The event was live-streamed on YouTube using the Pathfinders eLit channel. Audiences participated in the Traversal and the following Q&A session using the YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and in person in the audience in the Move Lab. The video clip captures the pre-show before showing the Traversal trailer.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Part 1
This video clip starts off with Stephanie Strickland introducing the live Traversal of her work True North. She goes on to share the six ways she describes the publication at the time of its hypertext publication. One: True North comes in three forms: a print book, a hypertext, and a poem. Two: The hypertext form allows not only for a full range, but for a constantly renewed structure of proximity. Three: True North allows voices to speak to each other across vast gaps. Four: True North explores the pressure of language practice puts on women’s bodies. Five: True North rings the changes into images/themes. Strickland also explains how she came to write True North.


Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Part 2
Strickland begins by saying that one of the difficulties when it came to publishing the hypertext was that she needed a Mac and PC version and ended up having to re-write the manual for each of them. She also notes that “since Storyspace does not use color to signify text link,” it makes the reader to press a key to reveal boxes around the text. She then talks about the True North folio cover before showing the Blue Planet navigation map in the work. As Strickland explores the work, she notes that the simplest way to read True North is to keep hitting “enter”.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Part 3
In this video clip, Strickland begins reading "The Mother Lost World" section, a poem about ancient languages. Strickland notes that the map is made of loopy links, which is “a great improvement of grid style maps because it can be shaped into something graphical.” Next, she goes onto another poem called “Guidance” and chooses the link “All We Know” which then takes her to another poem called “Striving All My Life.”  She continues to read through more poems as she clicks on more links. She gets to the end of the loop and tells the audience that another kind of link is the whole True North series link, which has poems shaped like a spinning top.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Part 4
This section of the Traversal video captures "To Be Here as Stone Is" starting at 5:39. Strickland points out the screens that are and are not correct. The one shown at 6:23 is, for example, not correct, but the one listed at 6:32 is. She also points out that the longest Java Applet galaxy runs from 6:41 through about 7:25. At 7:36 readers can find the "Game of Life;" at 8:34, "Fire;" at 8:48, "Rain;" at 9:03, "Sea-Light;" at 9:19, "Snow."  

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Q&A, Part 1
Dene Grigar announces the shift to the Q&A portion of the Traversal. An online audience member asks what Strickland thinks about incorporating  3D holograms and how it would impact an e-lit piece. Strickland answers by saying that it’s wonderful and different, but readers will need to be trained on how to read 3D holograms. Another online audience member, Richard Snyder, asks about the saving issue that impacted the process of composing. Strickland says “yes, [I] had to recreate everything,” she responded. A live audience member, Will Luers, asks about the difference between a map and a constellation. Strickland says that a constellation is similar to a map because there was a cultural agreement on ways to name the stars and map out the patterns of the animal migrations and temperature difference. She notes that it’s similar to the Internet and that the stars were creatively mapped like a grid.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Q&A, Part 2
The second Q&A segment opens up with Strickland continuing her answer from the previous video clip. Next, an online audience member asks how Strickland knew she was finished with the work. Strickland says she was done when the poems were finished. A live audience member, Holly Slocum, asks if she had a favorite way, either with hypertext or print, to write the work. Strickland says that they needed each other and that choosing one modality shouldn’t be forced.

Traversal of Stephanie Strickland's True North, Q&A, Part 3
In the last Q&A segment, a live audience member, Nicholas Schiller, comments that in order to do the things that were nostalgic requires one to know how to compose an HTML or compose in Storyspace. Strickland says that people don’t need to compose an HTML and that people can learn to become creators now. Grigar asks Strickland how she got her interest in science and how she connected it to her work. Strickland says that it started when she wanted to be an architect, which had a combination of art and space. Grigar closes the Traversal and thanks the audience.

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