Ph.D thesis on "Conversational Analysis of Chatroom 'talk'"
Masters thesis: Influence of the World Wide Web on literature
November 25, 1997
Though it is beyond the scope of this thesis one could relate the pattern defining abilities of the brain to adapt, change and as mentioned earlier to link, to the rise of the World Wide Web. Everyday thinking is equivalent to the narrative which will be redefined because of the use of the Internet. The thought processes that we are always encountering within ourselves is one of transferring from node to node. For example as a parent, student, artist, photographer, body builder, astrologer, writer and all the other things one does to be part of society, I may be one moment entertaining thoughts about my children's activities, then jump to thinking about my girl friend, my studies, body building or which time is the correct birth time for Princess Diana (2.15 PM or 7.45 PM?) or any one of a thousand and one things. Society is a linking process, and a society's narrative, to be true, is one of linked nodes.
The narrative that we experience within ourselves and within our reading or communications is now part of a global syntax. Literature can no longer continue only as a story produced in dead tree printing methods. Literature will now become reader driven as the witness-consumer-creator will produce and consume a new type of narrative. The narrative of the 21st century will be the narrative of all the world's voices weaving in and out and linking within and without providing continuos new structures and new literature unknown before this time.
'In considering transitions of organs, it is so important to bear in mind the probability of conversion from one function to another. (Darwin, p 45.)
The Internet provides us with the first time in recorded history of a world literature. For the past several decades there has been a growing consciousness of the world being one family, the interconnectedness of all life is a constant theme of the past thirty years. World literature is now easily available through the internet. At some time someone will begin a project of a world story done on the Internet. Writing a story with people from different cultural backgrounds in various countries would produce a text that would have ascribed meaning by the readers as well as the writers.
The story is no longer about what has happened to men and women and how they responded, instead it is about how the subjective and collective meanings of women and men as categories of identity have been constructed... (Scott, p.6)
Just as all forms of literature: drama, epic, essay, novel, poetry, short story, novels, plays, and movements in literature: such imagism, romanticism and surrealism and the many national literatures: American literature, Catalan literature, English Literature and German literature have become available to wide audiences through the printed text so they too are becoming popular throughout the world via the Internet with the literature of every genre imaginable.
The Internet was made to be indestructible. The American government wanted to find a way to survive nuclear war, or asteroid crashes or any of the other predictive ends that may occur. It is as if all the prophecies of the pass two thousand years about the end of the twentieth century would end in a destructive manner gave rise to the concept of a means of communication that would still be operatable even if the destructive predictions came true.
There is still in the collective memory of the human race the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 641 in which a thousands years of scholarly work was stored. Now we have a way to save the world's knowledge no matter what happens, whether the vast majority of life on earth is destroyed in nuclear war, or natural disaster, global warming or collisions with rocks from space. Human knowledge will survive humans. Of course what narrative is found by a future generation will need to be de-coded by a future generation.
Books will not lose their place, only the reader will. Books will undergo transformation through interpretation and presentation as all literature always has. The Biblical scholar Stephen Prickett prefaces his Origins of Narrative with:
During the late eighteenth century the Bible underwent a shift in interpretation so radical as to make it virtually a different book from what it had been a hundred years earlier...far from being divinely inspired or even a rock of certainty in a world of flux, its text was neither stable nor original, the new notion of the Bible as a cultural artefact became a paradigm of all literature...
Just as Prickett speaks about a shift in reading the Bible there is now a shift in reading the universe (Pricett 1996 p.155). Our current shift in reading via the World Wide Web is a shift in partaking of narrative exchanges.
The Internet will prove to be a great source of introduction to new writings, whether from a new writer or an already established writer. For example, a novelist could put their first chapter or an introduction to their novel on the Internet and if the reader wanted to purchase the novel then they would pay for the remainder of it by credit card and either have it sent to them electronically or download the material and print it themselves.
Multimedia is changing how narrative is presented. The onus is upon the reader whether to evaluate material on the World Wide Web and to develop the critical skills needed to give meaning to what is seen. Anyone can self-publish and have Internet sites looking highly polished and professional with very little effort using web page editors. As literature via the World Wide Web becomes ubiquitous, being all things to all people, each reader (the witness of the narrative) will create a different perspective to the original creation. The author has not died but instead has grown up and is part of a true literary-exchange
With the WORLD WIDE WEB's availability to all the individual writer-poet-heroes an individual voice of the age will no longer be occurring. There will never again be another Roland Barthes, Wordsworth, Shelley or a Shakespeare. Where there was once but a few voices now there are thousands each with a different point of view and crying out to be heard.
The World Wide Web is a digital speak-easy where literature is experienced as a process of mutating volatile virtual texts. Literature on the World Wide Web reflects the unpredictability of human life which has come close to extinction. As narratives merge, link and interact through the use of the World Wide Web humanity will redefine itself and survive, which without the Internet it might not have.
A more complete