In the name of of Allah the Merciful

Pre-web Digital Publishing and the Lore of Electronic Literature

Astrid Ensslin, 1108828884, 978-1108828888, 9781108828888, B09VXQ3FRQ

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English | 2022 | PDF

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This Element examines a watershed moment in the recent history of digital publishing through a case study of the pre-web, serious hypertext periodical, the Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext (1994-1995). Early hypertext writing relied on standalone, mainframe computers and specialized authoring software. With the Web launching as a mass distribution platform, EQRH faced a fast-evolving technological landscape, paired with an emergent gift and open access economy. Its non-linear writing experiments afford key insights into historical, medium-specific authoring practices. Access constraints have left EQRH under-researched and threatened by obsolescence. To address this challenge, this study offers platform-specific analyses of all the EQRH's cross-media materials, including works that have hitherto escaped scholarly attention. It deploys a form of conceptually oral ethno-historiography: the lore of electronic literature. The Element deepens our understanding of the North American publishing industry's history and contributes to the overdue preservation of early digital writing.