At the ELO "State of the Arts" meeting last week, I took part in a short panel on "Tools for Cross-Fertilization and Interactivity".
One problem with the state of our art is that we don't understand our own jargon. I've been working in the field for years, I build hypertext tools professionally, and I have no idea what "cross-fertilization" means here. We've got a jumble of popular products (Night Kitchen, Storyspace), research prototypes (RED, from PARC), and artists who make software (Bill Seaman, UCLA) on stage, but we don't know what we're really expected to be talking about. Neither does the audience. This leaves everyone feeling uneasy, edgy, unhappy.
Moderator Cathy Marshall asked a great question: what agenda does your system have? The agenda for Storyspace, I think, is links -- lots of links. Everything is deeply intertwingled. The agenda for Tinderbox is putting ideas together in new ways with agents, maps, and templates. The agenda for my talk at ELO was an old message that electronic artists need, I think, to hear once more: You can and must understand computers now.
No software package is as difficult as Dante.