Hypertext 08 Workshop on Creating out of the Machine: Hypertext, Hypermedia, and Web Artists Explore the Craft

Workshop Description and Goals

The process behind the creation of complex and interesting works of digital narrative can be an exciting area of exploration. How do writers manage the link? What's underneath the cortex of a realized hypertext or hypermedia work? This workshop is about how hypertext and hypermedia artists create, what decisions they make, how ideas are realized, and how problems are solved. It invites people actively engaged in the production of digital narrative to discuss their tools, methods, and decisions as they work through the creative process.

The goals of this workshop are to discuss and promote digital narrative, to encourage interest in the array of tools and works in the context of hypertext, hypermedia and the Web, and to initiate further insight into creative and technical processes. It is not the intention of this workshop to define or highlight any one system or theoretical position but to provide an opportunity for creators to explore their choices and decisions and to provide opportunities for others to investigate the diversity of hypertext and hypermedia production.


This workshop is targeted to a diverse audience: students of digital narrative, artists and writers seeking involvement with existing or emergent tools, educators looking for insight into the creative process as it is relevant to the creation of digital narrative, and system designers interested in exploring how the tools match the creative process.

The Program

The workshop will be divided into morning and afternoon hour-long sessions. Presenters should provide time for discussion.

9:00 AM
Session 1
9:15-10:15 AM
CHANGING KEY: A hyperdrama Video and Lecture-demonstration :: Charles Deemer, Portland State University, USA
10:15-10:45 AM
Session 2
10:45-11:35 AM
American Ghosts: from Concept to Completion :: Alan Bigelow, Medaille College and De Montfort University, UK
11:35-12:25 PM
The Hypertext Effect: the Transfiguration of Writing and the Writer :: Susan Gibb, Tunxis Community College, USA
12:30-1:45 PM
Session 3
1:45-2:35 PM
Hyperlinking in 3D Multimedia Performances :: Dene Grigar, Washington State University Vancouver
2:40-3:30 PM
Deikto: An Application of the Weak Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis :: Chris Crawford, Storytron, Inc.
3:30-4:00 PM
Session 4
4:00-5:00 PM
Literatronica. Adaptive Digital Narrative :: Juan B. Gutierrez, Florida State University, USA and Mark C. Marino, Univerity of Southern California, USA
6:30 PM

More Information

"CHANGING KEY": A hyperdrama Video and Lecture-demonstration :: Charles Deemer

In “Changing Key” I will introduce the dramatic principles of hyperdrama, illustrate them with a short dramatic video, and discuss the “nuts & bolts” of writing and producing hyperdrama both for live performance and for film. The entire package will be a structured video accessed through a website with embedded videos that are hosted at YouTube.

Charles Deemer became interested in hyperdrama in the mid-80s when he was commissioned to write one ("a play like Tamara") for the historic Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon, where Deemer was playwright-in-residence at the New Rose Theatre. The play ended up being "Chateau de Mort," which at one time had 8 simultaneous scenes spread out over 3 different floors of the mansion. Later he was playwright-in-electronic-residence at the Prisma theater company in Santiago, developing the one-act hyperdrama "The Death of Violeta Parra" in a chat room online. Deemer has had 7 hyperdramas produced, though his most ambitious one -- a hyperdrama version of Chekhov's "The Seagull" -- remains unproduced. However, it and much of his work on hyperdrama (including all of these videos) are available online at Hyperdrama. Deemer teaches screenwriting at Portland State University.

"American Ghosts: From Concept to Completion" :: Alan Bigelow

"American Ghosts" (2006) is an online digital story created in Flash and using a combination of text, images, video, and audio. This work examines personality archetypes as they appear in selected Revolutionary War heroes, and how those archetypes continue to survive, and be acted out, within contemporary American life. "American Ghosts" is not simply a commentary on historical perspective--through its ending, it suggests the full extent of our political and social responsibilities. This piece synthesizes video, text, audio, and other elements as part of an ongoing effort to streamline the user experience and enhance the work's aesthetic efficiency. This piece can be seen at American Ghosts or through the artist's website at Webyarns.

Alan Bigelow writes digital stories for the web. These stories are created in Flash and use images, text, audio, video,and other components. These stories are created expressly for viewing on the web, although they can be (and have been) shown as gallery installations.

Originally a fiction writer in traditional text genres, he started working in Flash in 2000. He quickly recognized the potential within this application for creating stories as multimedia events, and the Web as the best place to publish them. With hard copy fiction increasingly difficult to publish, and many writers moving to vanity presses and desktop publishing, it appeared that the Web offered a free market of new genres and, within digital fiction, a relatively undiscovered area of exploration.

Alan Bigelow's work, installations, and conversations concerning digital fiction have appeared in Turbulence.org, Rhizome.org, Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, E-Poetry 2007, BlazeVox.org, New River Journal, FILE 2007, chico.art.net, and elsewhere. Currently, in addition to teaching full-time at Medaille College, he is a visiting online lecturer in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, UK. You can see Alan Bigelow's work at Webyarns.

"The Hypertext Effect: the Transfiguration of Writing and the Writer" :: Susan Gibb

In this presentation, the process of transferring information from conception to learned traditional text format and into the hypertext environment of software such as Storyspace and Hypertextopia will be considered. The writing form as required by the medium necessarily influences the writer's style and habit.

An unpublished Storyspace hypertext, "Paths,” will be used to illustrate this phenomenon.

Susan M. Gibb holds an A.S. degree from Tunxis Community College in Farmington, CT and is currently supplementing with courses based on English, Creative Writing, and New Media. She is a writer of fiction as well as non fiction and poetry, and has served as editor of otto, the Tunxis literary journal, and has produced and edited a traditional archery magazine sold in the U.S. and abroad. She is currently working on hypertext projects in the Storyspace and Hypertextopia mediums and is interested in exploring all forms of new media including Interactive Fiction and Flash. Ms. Gibb currently writes online on websites she has dedicated to Literature, Writing, Hypertext, and life’s ‘story moments.’ She likes animals but abhors small children. She blogs at Spinning and Hypercompendia.

"Hyperlinking in 3D Multimedia Performances" :: Dene Grigar

This paper discusses ways in which hyperlinks are utilized in three-dimensional multimedia performance work that offer a narrative or poetic focus. Specifically, it examines use of hyperlinks in three works: Will Bauer’s “Life Tastes Good,” a multimedia game narrative demonstrated at Collision 2006 in Victoria, Canada, in which a player surfs the net by calling out voice commands from a menu from the gameboard projected on the floor, the projection changing with each new website evoked; Dene Grigar and Jeannette Altman’s Things of Day and Dream, a work of corporeal poetry in which the poem is “read” aloud when the performer touches zones in the performance space programmed with recorded lines of the poem and video clips related to the poem’s theme; and Steve Gibson’s Virtual DJ a music and light performance-installation piece that allows the performer to play the room like a musical instrument just by touching places in the performance space where musical notes are programmed.

Dene Grigar is an Associate Professor and Director of the Digital Technology and Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. Her books include New Worlds, New Words: Exploring Pathways in and Around Electronic Environments (with John Barber) and Defiance and Decorum: Women, Public Rhetoric, and Activism (with Laura Gray and Katherine Robinson); media art works include “Fallow Field: A Story in Two Parts” and “The Jungfrau Tapes: A Conversation with Diana Slattery about The Glide Project,” both of which appeared in Iowa Review Web in October 2004, and When Ghosts Will Die (with Canadian multimedia artist Steve Gibson), a piece that experiments with motion tracking technology to produce narrative. Her most recent work, also with Gibson, is the MINDful Play Environment, a live, interactive game environment she is developing (with Gibson) for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

"Deikto: An Application of the Weak Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis" :: Chris Crawford

We all know that natural language is the ideal user interface. We also know that natural language cannot be effectively implemented on existing computer systems. The core problem is that the knowledge domain required by natural language exceeds the capacity of existing computer systems and the perspicacity of computer scientists. This paper presents an alternative approach in which the specification of the knowledge domain is identical with the creation of user interface language.

Chris Crawford earned a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1975. After teaching physics for several years, he joined Atari as a game designer in 1979. There he created a number of games: Energy Czar, an educational simulation about the energy crisis, Scram, a nuclear power plant simulation, Eastern Front (1941), a wargame, Gossip, a social interaction game, and Excalibur, an Arthurian game.

Following the collapse of Atari in 1984, Crawford took up the Macintosh. He created Balance of Power, a game about diplomacy, Patton Versus Rommel, a wargame, Trust & Betrayal, a social interaction game, Balance of the Planet, an environmental simulation game, and Patton Strikes Back, a wargame. In 1992, Crawford decided to leave game design and concentrate his energies on interactive storytelling, a field that he believed would become important. He created a major technology for interactive storytelling systems, patenting it in 1997. He is now commercializing his technology at his company website at storytron.com.

Crawford has written five published books: The Art of Computer Game Design, now recognized as a classic in the field, in 1982; Balance of Power (the book) in 1986; The Art of Interactive Design in 2002; Chris Crawford on Game Design in 2003; and Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling in 2004.

He created the first periodical on game design, the Journal of Computer Game Design, in 1987. He founded and served as Chairman of the Computer Game Developers’ Conference, now known as the Game Developers’ Conference. Crawford has given hundreds of lectures at conferences and universities around the world, and published dozens of magazine articles and academic papers.

Crawford served as computer system designer and observer for the 1999 and 2002 NASA Leonid MAC airborne missions; he also has done some analysis of the resulting data. He lives in southern Oregon with his wife, 3 dogs, 10 cats, 5 ducks, and 3 burros.

"Literatronica. Adaptive Digital Narrative" :: Juan B. Gutierrez and Mark C. Marino

In this workshop we explore the Literatronica system in regards to the choices and decisions made by the technical architect of the system and by an author. The Literatronica system allows authors to create pieces of adaptive digital narrative, and provides an accessible web interface for readers. Digital narrative works could reconfgure themselves for the reader, leading every time to a potentially unique read. Literatronica works could not be reproduced on paper except, perhaps, as a reading path at a given moment.

Juan B Gutierrez (1973) is a Colombian engineer, author and mathematician who resides in the US since 2001. He graduated in 2005 with a M.Sc. in mathematical biology from Florida State University. He is currently enrolled at FSU as a Ph.D student in biomedical mathematics. He specializes mainly in four areas of research: (i) mathematical models for control of invasive species, (ii) information systems, (iii) pattern classification in biological data sets, and (iv) creation and theory of digital narrative. He has published two paperback fiction books, two digital novels, and several scientific papers.

Mark C. Marino is a Ph.D. from UC Riverside, studying chatbots, electronic literature, games, and other new media. His dissertation, I, Chatbot: The Gender and Race Performativity of Conversational Agents, focuses on chatbots and issues of performativity. He blogs about elit on Writer Response Theory and Critical Code Studies. He is also the editor of Bunk Magazine, an online new media humor magazine. He has published articles in James Joyce Quarterly and electronic book review. His creative new media works have appeared in The Iowa Review Web, Hypperhiz, and The New River Journal. Mark is the Director of Communication for the Electronic Literature Organization. He currently teaches at the University of Southern California. : His portfolio lives here. His writings include: Marginalia in the Libary of Babel, A Show of Hands, Stravinsky's Muse, Labyrinth, (PC, 12 Easy Lessons To Better Time Travel) (MAC, 12 Easy Lessons To Better Time Travel)


Presentations are encouraged from hypertext and hypermedia creators, creators who use linking and network tools for purposes of collaboration, and designers of hypermedia systems. Works should be representable or reproducible for the audience. Short papers and panel discussions that relate to the Workshop Description and Goals are encouraged. In addition, those activities that involve hands-on opportunity with the audience will be organized into manageable group sizes. The following lists of areas and topics are merely suggestions.

Areas of Interest

Suggested topics to consider

Submission Guidelines

Please submit proposals to Steve Ersinghaus at sersinghaus (at) txcc.commnet.edu in PDF format. Short position papers or statements should be submitted using ACM Guidelines and will be included in ACM Proceedings. Submitters of digital works should follow the guidelines below:

Important Dates


The conference hotel, the Omni William Penn Hotel, is an ultimate luxury hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Conference sessions, workshops and tutorials will take place at the hotel. Omni William Penn Hotel 530 William Penn Place Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219 Phone: (412) 281-7100, Fax: (412) 553-5252