In the first part of the paper, examining different implicit or explicit conceptions of digital literature (combinatory in relationship with IA, combinatory in relationship with Max Bense, generation in relationship with Automatic treatment of language, animation in relationship with programmed forms, hypertext in relationship with the French Theory…), I argue that digital literature does not exist as an object but as a field in the sense of Bourdieu. As it is not an object, we cannot define it. As it is a social strength and movement, it cannot begin no end, we can only name it, or not, in a symbolic language. As a field, it obeys inside symbolic conflicts as they appear from the inside, as an heterogeneous domain. But as a field, it acts into the society – from the outside it appears as a consistent structured domain.
Even if it is not an object, main internal cultural practices of the field (publishing, exhibition, teaching) need to have a “knowledge” of what is a “digital text”. In order to avoid the use of an impossible definition, I propose in the second part of the paper to measure a “digital degree” of a work. I try to do this by exploring Alckmar Dos Santos’ suggestion that we could define the coordinates of each work in a metric abstract space and then make measures by using classical statistic methods on them. I will show how, using the theory of programmed forms I have developed in the procedural model, we can represent categories of works in a metric space, not as points but as plane figures, and then define such a degree. The result would differ from Dos Sants’ result if Alckmar really develops his idea. I do not measure a “digital literary” index but the “distance” between the work and the form it could have if it was a video or a printed work. This “analogic reference” can be built by recording the multimedia aspect of the work. The “digital degree” of the work does not treat its literary aspect, it only characterises its divergence with analogic classical works.
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