February 24, 2003
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Sanity

Diane Greco writes an eloquent and sensible response to the recent rash of pseudo-scholarly silliness about hypertext, cool, and the military industrial complex (Feb 24 entry, no permalink).

Ziegler is also weirdly obsessed with something called "cool," a word which he thinks applied to hypertext at some point.

I assure you, it did not. In 1992, a "hypertext reading" at Brown University meant four students sitting around a Mac Classic in a closet in a basement of the engineering building while Michael Joyce read from the screen. The room was cramped, dim, and smelled like mold. It would be the grossest distortion to say this scene was cool .

Greco can write -- thank goodness somebody here knows how the play this game! And she bars no holds:

ELO gave away $20K plus untold organizational resources in an effort to create e-lit celebs , or a reliable mechanism (a prize) for producing them, to no avail. In 2001, as the post-award silence resounded, hypertext's critics cried louder, hoping someone out there was listening. Nobody was, except the original hypertext stalwarts who now found themselves targets of abuse. The old flap over at EBR veered from an obscure, bellicose argument about semiotics to pompous, misinformed name-dropping cleverly concealed as scholarship. There was more misinformed bellicosity over at Dichtung-Digital . The criticism, if you can call it that, was especially boring. It definitely was not "cool".

But, you know, those four students listening to Michael Joyce in the moldy basement closet, that really was cool. The future of writing still lies on the screen, links are the key to a new literature, and that moldy old closet is going to be the envy of future generations of scholars and writers who will wish they could've been there too. Maybe that's what's really eating Jerz and Ziegler and all the rest.