Meaning within narratives has made dramatic changes between the time of early oral story telling and the rise of the World Wide Web. Before the printing press meaning was limited to an ascribed source, usually the Church or a ruling person or government. With the mass production provided by the printing press, printed text still had an ascribed meaning with the meaning of a text under the control of the creator of the text. Now with the use of the World Wide Web, meaning has made a shift unparalleled in human discourse. In the non-linear and unstable environment of the Internet meaning within narrative is more of an arbitrary means to an end.

The medium used to distribute narrative affects the evolution of the narrative. As narrative is valuable and grows by an evolutionary process the rate by which the use of the Internet is growing should make literature evolve at a rate never conceived of before. The meaning within a narrative on the World Wide Web can change instantly. On the Internet Meaning no longer has meaning of any determinable value.

In the past the broadest categories for literary forms has been prose and verse. These forms now merge with nodes of prose and nodes of verse linking to one another. Because of the unstable nature of the Internet this merging of various forms is becoming evident even in linear traditional written texts. An example of this merged form which is written as a traditional linear text and is also available on the Internet can be found at TRYTHIS.html. Here prose and poetry meet on the same page and meaning is dependant on whether the reader reads the poems which intercepts the narrative's linear direction.

Most literature in modern times is printed but long before there was the printing press there was a long history of oral narrative. Oral narrative dates back to ancient Greece and was an important part of Medieval Europe life. Travelling poets entertained audiences by reciting and performing their works prior to the rise of the printing press. On the Internet narrative creators are considered to be travelling the electronic highway as they place their stories on the World Wide Web.

When printing began making its mark on the world some of the first narratives printed were about adventures in the New World. Contemporary with the invention of the printing press were the discoveries of the Americas. The Conquistadors brought back and had printed their stories of narrative acres settled and developed by the new form of interactive literature. Michael St. Hippolyte describes his web site, "Mumble Jumble", as,

'Mumbo Jumbo is a few acres of jungle and beachfront on the Web, hoping to provide a taste of passion and its nobler fruits. Passion: the collective name for mysterious emotive forces churning just below the margin of our consciousness, shooting inspiration from time to time into the blue sky of the human imagination.'

Michael St. Hippolyte



"(c)" Terrell Adsit-Neuage. Hackham South Australia October 1997

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