Éclairs, Kindles, Twitter-bots, and the Gutenberg printing press all came our way during the Creative Writing Program's New Media Colloquium.
On October 8th, Fordham Writer in Residence, Allison Parrish and Benjamin Samuel, editor at large at Electric Literature spoke on an array of ways that the publishing and writing worlds are continuing to change and evolve.
“People don’t really understand technologies before they dismiss them,” said Samuel. "Some critics thought that Gutenberg’s printing press would destroy culture. Critiques of Kindles and iPhones may seem equally outdated in the future."
Still, Samuel cautions that no one can truly know the future of publishing.
“I don’t know what the future of publishing is,” he said, “and anyone who tells you they do is trying to sell you something. Our collective decisions right now as creators and consumers will determine the future. We just need to let people read what they want to how they want to,” he said. “The future of publishing isn’t a computer. It’s us.”
Parrish, however, struck a different tone. Parrish creates experimental art through computer programming and she said she found the interaction of computers and readers “beautiful.”
Among Parrish’s creations include a video game that she describes as “Boggle and Super Mario at the same time” among other quirky and inventive projects. Perhaps her most notable endeavor, however, is the popular Twitter account @everyword, which tweets every word of the English language alphabetically. Because of a programming fluke, @everyword tweeted the word “éclair" after the last word beginning with "z," infuriating many Twitter followers.
Aside from the laughter Parrish’s story elicited, Parrish felt there was an important lesson within @everyword. “Words aren’t empty vessels. @everyword brings that to the surface.”
When Samuel stated that he felt computer generated writing could never replace writing written by people, Parrish playfully retorted “I disagree. Wherever there’s a program that makes text, there’s a someone who programmed it.”
This event was co-sponsored by New Media and Digital Design.