For this last checkpoint, I found myself at a loss. The Electronic Literature Directory failed me, my own reading or interacting with elit online failed me, my own brain failed me – until I thought about communication. There have been a lot of entries that have hit on it – too many to link , at least – but I wanted to look specifically at the communication aspect that this new genre of literature allows us. Think about it – the internet allows you to talk to someone literally on the other side of the world in the millisecond it takes to connect you. In our modern era of computers and wifi and texting and tweeting, this seems like no big deal since we are all so accustomed to it already. But the fact that communicating with anyone is so easy in the twenty-first century is absolutely fantastic. I’ve had conversations with people from China, Australia, Germany, people I will never meet face-to-face but who I have managed to connect with despite the miles separating us. This global connection is a wonderful thing, and I believe electronic literature will use it to become the most common, recognized genre of literature.
Electronic literature has that special aspect of being mostly, generally electronic and available online. It can be shared across countries in the blink of an eye. When doing research for my analysis paper, I read an essay written by a scholar from Australia, which provided interesting insights into my topic. Did I end up using it in my paper? No, but the fact that I could read it, that I had access to it at all, is amazing. How often do you go on a foreign culture’s website and think nothing of it? Or chat online with people in other countries, and consider it normal? Almost every day, I’m sure. I know I do. This communication, this connection we have to the rest of the world, is what will push elit to the top of the list in future years. Wrote a poem, want some feedback? Post it online. Just made an awesome video of yourself jumping on and blowing up a giant water balloon and you want to share it with the world? Post it online. Just made the most ingenious, fantastic piece of interactive fiction and want to change electronic literature with it? Post it online. Just ate a fantastic sandwich and want the world to know? Post it online.
I know this whole ‘connecting the world’ phrase is mostly just a catch-phrase for websites like Facebook and Google to use as marketing, but have you ever really thought about how wonderful a connection like that would be? If every country had access to the internet, had a chance to connect with someone they’ve never met in person, learn something new about a foreign culture, what’s to keep us from truly becoming one big, united world?
Okay, that’s a little too idealistic. But at the very least, we are starting to get that chance to truly interconnect with and understand the rest of the world. Yes, it’s an idealized, Eden-style thought that may not ever happen, but at least we have the option. We can always start small, and make electronic literature the biggest form of literature in the modern era, perhaps even bigger than the pen-and-paper literature. It’s worth a shot.