30 January 2013

-What are the formal characteristics in cyberpunk that are evident in digital spaces?
-Working through a collection of notes from K.N. Hayles’s wonderful texts. These, in many ways, will serve as the spine of my project (I suspect).
-Uncertainty: is this what might be measured empirically in readers and digital space residents? In cyberpunk, readers are often uncertain about settings, characters, technologies, weapons, and specialized terms. This uncertainty is a common feature of literature; as Hayles argues, “narratives gesture toward the inexplicable, the unspeakable, the ineffable” (How We Think). The strategy of beginning in media res is not new. Readers deal with this uncertainty by making predictions and revising previous assessments of the text they are reading (Iser has a lot to say on this process, but are there any empirical studies?). Digital spaces seem similarly reliant upon uncertainty–users have to figure out how to navigate a Web page the first time that they visit, one of the biggest challenges for gamers is building up an appropriate vocabulary (of words, images, sounds, colours, and physics) that comprise each game. How then to measure this initial uncertainty in digital spaces? Is it safe to assume that people read virtual digital spaces using the same strategies (essentially prediction and revision) that they use to read virtual literary spaces?

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