In Wardrip-Fruin’s Digital Media Archaeology, he discusses how digital media has progressed into representing different forms of media through machines. He uses the generator as an example of a machine that generates literature.
The first important aspect I found is on page 302. Wardrip-Fruin discusses digital media as not being simply representations. He states that digital media “…are not simply representations but machines for generating representations” (302). This is important to his overall argument because Wardrip-Fruin will go on to explain this statement by using the generator as an example of a machine that generates representations. This is important for us to keep in mind while reading his piece because we tend to want to categorize digital media into a narrow category, but Wardrip-Fruin will discuss why we cannot do that.
The second important aspect I found is on page 306 where Wardrip-Fruin discusses the hidden process the generator does not reveal to its users. He states that when we “…read an example of output from the love letter generator, we are seeing the surface manifestation of two other elements that remain hidden from us: the generator’s data and processes” (306). This is important to his overall argument because he is wanting to reveal the generator’s hidden processes and finds it fascinating. This is important for our class to remember because we can relate it back to our Kittler reading on software. In other words, the generator’s “software” does not exist.
The third important aspect I found is on page 316 where Wardrip-Fruin introduces the love letter generator as the first experiment in digital literature. He states that the love letter generator “…the first experiment in digital literature. It is a process designed to fail that employs a thesaurus-based set of word data and that can result in particularly inhuman surface texts” (316). This is a breakthrough in his argument because he is admitting that this digital literature is designed to not even be successful. This is important for our class to remember while reading his piece because it will help us come to a conclusion with my question to the class at the end of my blog post.
Although I enjoyed this reading, there were areas in Wardrip-Fruin’s argument that I was confused about. The first confusing aspect I found is on page 307. Waardrip-Fruin states the generator’s outputs “…have been used in discussions of queer identity, but the generator has rarely been considered carefully as a literary project” (307). I am confused by this statement because I do not understand how it contributes to his overall argument on digital literacies. I do not understand what “queer identity” and digital literacies have in common.
The next consuming aspect I found is on page 314 where Wardrip-Fruin describes “emergent behavior.” He states that this type of behavior “…results from the interactions of simple rules, is often in the digital arts called “emergent behavior.” In this case, the behavior that emerges is not desirable but it is notable for being both a completely logical outcome of the design of the system and an outcome that even the system’s author did not forsee” (314). I am confused on how “emergent behavior” relates back to the generator or any digital literacies. I could not make a clear connection between the two.
My question to the class is should literature only be human generated? Or do you think machines have the capability to generate literature accurately?