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Porting E-poetry: The Case of First Screening


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Presentation slideshow for First International Conference on Translating E-Literature, May 12-14, 2012.

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Porting E-poetry: The Case of First Screening

  1. 1. Porting E-Poetry: The Case of Leonardo Flores, PhD University of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez
  2. 2. Digital Preservation Methods for Electronic Literature• Bit-by-bit preservation of source materials.• Documentation – through image, audio, and video capture of a performance of the work.• Emulation – emulating the original computational environment in another OS.• Porting - translating software from one programming language to another with the goal of producing the same effect in different hardware and software configurations.
  3. 3. bpNichol First Screening • Created on an Apple IIe between 1983-1984 in Apple Basic. • Underwhich edition (1984): 100 copies published in 5.25” floppy disks. • Apple II series discontinued by 1993.
  4. 4. First Screening on Hypercard • J. B. Hohm started working on a Hypercard version of First Screening in 1992. • It was published in 1993 by Red Deer College Press in 3.5” disks. • Hypercard was discontinued in 2004. • Classic Environment not functional beyond Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger), released in 2005.
  5. 5. Digital Preservation of First Screening• 3-year preservation project (2004-2007) by Jim Andrews, Lionel Kearns, Dan Waber, Geof Huth, and Marko Niemi produced and published: 1. The original DSK file of the 1984 edition, which can be opened with an Apple IIe emulator, along with the Apple BASIC source code as a text file, and scanned images of the original printed matter. 2. A video documenting the emulated version in Quicktime format. 3. The 1993 HyperCard version, along with the printed matter of that edition. 4. A JavaScript version that runs in browsers.
  6. 6. First Screening (video version)
  7. 7. Evaluating First Screening Digital Preservation at Pros Cons• Well documented • Different formats• Offers work in multiple presented as (more or formats less) equivalent• Offers supplemental representations of work materials • Porting focuses on• Includes source code linguistic text and animation• Javascript port preserves: • Graphical text is – Linguistic text neglected – Animation• Lovingly executed
  8. 8. Emulated version Pros Cons• Most faithful version • Requires installation of• Same source code as emulator on user’s original computer• Emulator simulates Apple • Nichol assumes user IIe operating system knowledge of Apple Basic• User enters visual and • Contemporary users may conceptual space of have difficulty using Apple IIe computers and emulated version. Apple Basic. • Emulators have to be ported • Variability with emulation
  9. 9. First Screening (emulated version)• AppleWin for Windows• Available at:• Copyright Information: • © 1994-1996, Michael OBrien • © 2001, Oliver Schmidt • © 2002-2005, Tom Charlesworth • © 2006-2011, Tom Charlesworth, Michael Pohoreski, Nick Westgate, Linards Ticmanis• Reminder: List 100,116
  10. 10. Emulated Version of First Screening• Interactions are part of design: – Typing in commands – Constraints and affordances on interactivity – Interacting with and exploring the code – Code poem at the end (coda?)• Code has “voice” and is part of textual performance.• Interaction with hardware is lost in emulation.
  11. 11. Issues with Quicktime Video Documentation• Different digital object: easy to confuse with the real thing because it has the same linguistic text and animation.• Different typography (graphical text).• Different interactivity: – Video controls: play, pause, fast forward, rewind. – Random access: skip around video – Scalable full screen• Incomplete: – Off screen romance – Code poem
  12. 12. First Screening (Hypercard port) Pros Cons• Authorized by Ellie • Hypercard stack Nichol (bpNichol’s changes interface. widow) • Offers customization• Preserves linguistic and options to users: animated text – Animation speed• Extended the life of the – Font work by a decade. • Hypercard is obsolete & emulation is difficult.
  13. 13. First Screening (JavaScript port) Pros Cons• Runs in browsers • Different computational• Ease of use for object(s): 36 files contemporary • JavaScript standards audiences evolve, so code must be• Simulates interaction updated:• Replicates linguistic text – Bug at the end of Tower poem ends sequence. and animation • Different font (graphical text
  14. 14. Graphical Text Comparison Emulated version Javascript version• Shape of numbers: 3 & 0• Apple Font: Motter Tektura, designed by Othmar Motter in 1975 • Lines & dots given limited resolution • Sans serif, monospaced font• Javascript Font: Courier, designed by Howard Kettler in 1955 • Slab serif, monospaced font designed to evokes typewriter keystrokes • Official US Government font until replaced by Times New Roman in 2004
  15. 15. Code Poem ComparisonEmulated Version JavaScript Version • Look the same • Read the same • Not the same
  16. 16. Screen Text vs CodeJavaScript Screen Text JavaScript Code
  17. 17. REMarks about Screen & Code• Differences between code and screen are significant in bpNichol’s work: – Title “First Screening” evokes computer and film – Early (est?) kinetic digital poem – “Offscreen Romance” plays off of onscreen chemistry and off-screen romance between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – Code poem is not a kinetic text – Code poem engages REM programming code
  18. 18. Challenges of Translating E-Literature• The work of electronic literature isn’t just what is seen on screen.• Translation should take into account: – Linguistic text: sequence of words – Graphical text: typography, formatting – Interface: interactivity, navigation – Textual behavior: movement, timing, etc. – Code: porting, emulation
  19. 19. Recommendations• Be sensitive to: – Interface, functionality – Graphical text: typography, formatting – Original source and programming codes• Emulate & recreate environment, or• Translate to new environment or interfaces for contemporary audiences.• For preservation purposes: – Produce multiple versions – Make original materials available – Document every decision
  20. 20. ¡Gracias! Leonardo Flores, PhD Associate Professor of EnglishUniversity of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez I ♥ E-Poetry