Archive for March, 2011


Quickness: Analogy

My analogy is teaching.

When teaching someone something you have to work quickly and keep the person engaged. If you have irrelevant details or go off on tangents you will lose the person. But, if you keep the person actively listening and interested in what you are saying they will pick up what you are teaching them faster.

Last summer I taught English at summer camps throughout Italy. It was challenging to keep 10 Italian children’s attention when I don’t speak Italian and they speak very little English. I learned that by keeping them active and having short lesson plans I could keep their attention and interest.

To say the least, Poundstone’s E-lit piece keeps your attention. The words and unrelated symbols are flying by so quickly that you are constantly having to process what you just saw and yet pay attention to what is next. Just as in teaching, you want to continually be changing topics so that you are keeping their interest. But, you don’t want to move as fast as this E-lit piece does because then you will probably leave your student in the dust.

My emblem for quickness is a bicycle.

Just like Calvino’s horse, I prefer a story that gets me to the end quickly. However, I chose the bicycle because it is a little more of an updated form of transportation than horseback riding. However, I did not choose a car for a reason. I still prefer older forms of stories, than the newest ones. When I say older, I mean books. I would consider the car to be an emblem for E-literature.

A bicycle is often ridden for enjoyment. Linear stories that often come in the form of books are often for entertainment purposes. They may have agendas, but they are still entertaining. That is the main reason we read. With bicycles, you can stop whenever you would like to. You don’t have to find a parking place like in a car. I am obviously a fan of bicycles. I ride one to school everyday. The reader is in control in a book. They can turn the page whenever they like.

With E-literature the viewer has to wait for the next button to pop before they move on. And every piece of E-literature is different, so you are not even sure there is going to be a button.

With Poundstone’s E-lit piece the viewer cannot control the speed. The speed is given to the viewer and they must take it as it is. At times the speed is almost too fast.

When an author writes, I want them to get to the point quickly. However, when they choose their format to tell the story, I would like some control over the speed.

My analogy for exactitude is screen printing.

When screen printing on T-shirts you must be precise. I have had made many mistakes while screen printing T-shirts. First, while making the screen you have to make sure your image is clearly defined. If the image is fuzzy the screen will not burn correctly and the image will not come out right. Once you have your clear and concise image correctly burned on the screen, you can get out the ink. When screen printing on fabric with ink you have to make sure not to use too much ink. If you use too much ink, then it will bleed through the screen and part of your image will come out goopy.

Screen printing is an analogy for exactitude because both require that you use “a well defined and well-calculated plan for the work”. You cannot come into screen printing with a poor design. And when writing with exactitude you must know where you are heading as well. Calvino’s second point that you must “have a clear, incisive memorable visual image” could not fit any more perfectly with screen printing. As I said, a fuzzy image will not burn onto the screen correctly.

In The Cape, Carpenter uses clear, concise images to set the scene and tell a story. In fact, most of the visual images Carpenter uses could easily be used to screen print. The maps and diagrams are all in black and white and have clear dark lines.

My analogy for lightness is 35mm projection.

I am a projectionist at the Reitz Union on Monday nights. And in fact, as I write this I have 35mm film zooming through a projector at 18 inches a second just 5 feet away from me. Projectors take hundreds of miles of film and turn them into a moving image with sound. The process of projection takes incredibly light, thin film and runs it at 24 frames a second. This speed creates a moving image. This thin, almost weightless film holds within its frames an entire story with a beginning, middle, and end.

This process is similar to that used in Tailspin by Christine Wilks. Wilks used just a few paragraphs of text throughout the E-literature piece. But, the little dialogue carried the entire story. She used limited animation to accompany the text. But, the story line and characters were created by the limited text. It carries history and emotion in the words.