Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance. The Beginnings of a Field
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This paper outlines the development of the hypertext fiction community that developed in the United States of America from the late eighties and onwards. This community was separate from the interactive fiction community (and largely thought of its works as different from “games”) and largely revolved around the use of Storyspace, a software tool for creating electronic literature, and later, around Eastgate, a publisher of hypertext fiction and the company that developed Storyspace. While some work was written and published in Hypercard and other systems, the technology of a dominant software authoring tool and of the mechanics of distribution (diskettes sold by mail order) formed the hub of the electronic literature community during this period. There was little or no communication with other communities, such as the IF community or digital art communities. With the advent of the web, new authoring and distribution channels opened up, and this hub gradually lost its dominance. The transition from this relatively centralised and explicit community to the networked communities and scattered individuals of the Web is an interesting one to explore. I will base this research on historical websites and articles published at the time, as well as on interviews.