I haven’t broke my way into and welcomed the age of the Iphone 4s (I’m still using the outdated 3GS), but I can predict that the Siri technology is carving the path into a posthuman world.
With predecessors such as Eliza and the multitude of other text-based adventure games that all use the human to computer interaction, Siri is the pinnacle of that kind of technology that is readily available, and the interactivity is simple enough for any human to simply pick up and use. This simplistic interactivity, as it grows and grows into something greater, the machines and the technology will not only open the possibilities of the machine to be greater, but the interactivity between the person and the machine will be simpler. This kind of human, machine connection will tangle humans more tightly to the cybernetic.
Anyone remember Hal 3000?
Arthur Clarke’s depiction of sentient technology that has a great human/machine connection also carries the potential for very horrifying consequences if the machines override themselves. On one hand, the advantages of a kind of technology that will carry humankind to new heights is exciting, but the consequences of having the technology fail could be even greater than the advantages that the technology offers.
So like its sister technology Siri, electronic literature offers a new look at life, a new look at what makes humans distinctly human by having a human reader interact with an inanimate medium that contains words, thoughts and images that are most certainly alive. The words (of the electronic literature) are brought to life through their potency and the way through which the words are obtained. And unlike the paperback novel, the word becomes immortalized, alive and moving around forever, floating in the cyber landscape…waiting for someone to interact and open the doors of the electronic literature. So it could be argued that the paperback is somehow inherently more human than the electronic book, but both are equally as human. Both mediums are harnessed and made by human hands. Just the mediums are entirely different.
And all this machine interaction is wonderful in part of the simplicity. Reading a piece of electronic literature, though is gives a more simplistic use between the user and machine, it offers new challenges for the user. Just as using Siri or other interactive devices gives a more simplistic approach to living, new challenges are created. The user must work within the binary contingencies of that media or technology. So asking the “right” questions, typing in the “right” words and making the “right” clicks are all a part of the experience. Instead of seeing the entire text before us, we readers are walking through the text blindly, unaware of the next corners, doors and hallways. Electronic literature holds a mystery that paper literature doesn’t. But if it all fails like the horrifying reality in Terminator, then we will be left in a blackout, with no paper books, no energy, no way to live. So it seems to me that embracing the electronic literature is just a matter of how tight we readers want the embrace to be. If it’s too tight, it could cost us all of our information if it decides suddenly to fail on us.