The Internet as a New Multimodal Compositional Medium

In 1998, as a culmination to earning a Master’s Degree in “English, Language & Professional Writing” from the University of Waterloo, I completed an online essay entitled “New Medium, New World: A Discussion of the Internet as a New Compositional Medium”. (I found it in an old backup file, and uploaded it here. It still works: the beauty of static html.)

In the essay, I forecast that “The Internet promises to revolutionize document storage and access. And hypertext, the kind of text within online documents, promises to revolutionize the way we write and read them.” I envisioned entire libraries of fully searchable electronic documents existing “unobtrusively in a small server room in a university building” to be read using an electronic “slate”. The essay discussed the advent of self-publishing and serial-publishing.

This novel website (pun intended) tests my vision for the Internet as a new compositional medium in several ways:

  • Departure from Linearity—a web, not a Line: A book unfolds linearly from chapter to chapter, page to page; a website expands outwardly link by link, creating a web of content.
  • Self-Publishing—no authoritarian overseer: In traditional publishing, an authoritative publisher judges a literary work, dictates changes, and deems it worthy of publication. Self-publishing removes the overseer and depends on individual readers to judge a work worthy of their time.
  • Serial-Publishing—a work in progress: Most novels today are published upon completion, not in serial form as the story progresses. In this forum, quickly must the story unfold to maintain attention?
  • Contextuality Revealed—an archive of contextual elements: On the About the Book section of this website, I will write about the process of writing the book as I write it, including research associated with historical details, creating a web of information associated with the novel itself.
  • Feedback Welcome—a collaborative environment: The Comments section associated with each post or book segment empowers you, the reader, to become critic, editor, or even contributor.

Stay with me as it unfolds and please use the comments sections to let me know what you think about it!