1000 Words into the Future of Text

Reclining woman with computer code

Stuart Moulthrop ··· July 2020

About the Work

This project began at ELOrlando in 2020 when Frode Hegland, developer of the Liquid platform for "self-aware" documents, invited me to write a thousand words for a book on The Future of Text. Scanning the contributor list, which contains many names I know and many more I admire, it became clear that anything I could say by ordinary means would at best swell the chorus, which my Welsh grandmother would approve, but not this time, Nana.

How can a document be self-aware? Mr. Hegland has his own ideas, as do the other learned contributors. I am still trying to work it out, approaching the problem characteristically backwards or by negation. Which is to say, I grasp more clearly how a document can embody the opposite of awareness. All it takes is a little knowledge of web scripting and a fundamentally disordered relationship to language. Et voila.

You can consume this folly either in a single dose or an all-you-can-stand stream. The static version is the default. Select the scrolling version if you dare.

Disclaimers: though the names of real people appear in this aleatory text, anything said about them proceeds from non-awareness, or machine fiction, assuming that's a distinction you observe. Warnings for repetition, animation, idiocy.

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