This paradigm for electronic literature moves beyond the initial approaches which either treated electronic literature as computerized versions of print literature or focused solely on one aspect of the system. In this paper, we build two basic arguments. On the one hand, we propose that the conception of electronic literature s an Information system gets at the essence of electronic media, and we predict that this paradigm will become dominant In this field within the next few years. On the other hand, we propose that building information systems may also lead in a shift of emphasis from one-time artistic novelties to reusable systems.

Demonstrating this approach, we read works from the _Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 _ Canon Nelson and Emily Short) as well as newer works by Meg and the team gathered by Kate Pulling and Chris Joseph. Glancing toward the future, we discuss the n-teller analysis of the Global Poetic System and the La Flood Project. The fundamental attributes of digital narrative have been, so far, mostly faithful to the origin of electronic text: a set of linked episodes that contain hypermedia elements.

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Whether or not some features could be reproduced in printed media has been subject of debate by opponents and proponents of digital narratives. However, as the electronic media evolves, some features truly unique to digital narrative have appeared. For instance, significant effort has been invested in creating hypertext responsive to the reader's actions by making links dynamic; additionally, there have en efforts to create systems capable of producing fiction, with varying degrees of success. Both approaches have in common that they grant greater autonomy to the computer, thus making of it an active part of the literary exchange.

The increasing complexity of these systems has directed critical attention to the novelty of the processes that produce the texts. As critics produce a flood of neologisms to classify these works, the field is suffering from a lack of a shared language for these works, as opposed to drawing from the available computer science and well-articulated terminology of information systems. The set {Reader, Computer, Author} forms a system in which there is flow and manipulation of information, I. E. An _information system_.

The interaction between the elements of an information system can be isolated in functional tiers. For instance: one or many data tiers, processing tiers, and presentation tiers. In general we will talk about n-tier information systems. We will expand this definition in the next section. In this system, a portion of information produced (output) is taken, totally or partially, as input, I. E. There is a feedback loop and therefore the process an be characterized as a cybernetic process. Of course, the field has already embraced the notion of the cybernetic.

The term cybernetic was brought to the literary world's attention by Aspen Reassert (1997). His concept focuses on the organization of the text in order to analyze the influence of media as an integral part of literary dynamics. According to Reassert, cybernetic is not a genre in itself. In order to classify traditions, literary genres and aesthetic value, Reassert argues, we should inspect texts at a much more local level. The concept of cybernetic offers a way to expand the reach of literary studies to include phenomena that are perceived today as foreign or marginal.

In Arrest's work, cybernetic denotes the general set of text machines which, operated by readers, yield different texts for reading. Reassert (1997, p. 19), refuses to narrow this definition of cybernetic to "such vague and unfocused terms such as digital text or electronic literature. " For the course of this paper, we will use the phrase "electronic literature," as we are interested in those works that are markedly literary in that they resonate (at least on one level) through evocative linguistic content and engage with an existing literary corpus.

While we find "cybernetic" to be a useful concept, the taxonomies and schematics that literature. Instead of using Arrest's neologisms such as Textron, scripting and traversal functions, we will use widely-accepted terminology in the field of computer science. This shift is important because the concepts introduced by Reassert, which are relevant to the current discussion, can be perfectly mapped to concepts developed years earlier in computer science. While the neologisms introduced by Reassert remain arcane, the terms used in computer science are pervasive.

Although the term cybernetic adds a sense of increasingly complex interactivity, its Ochs is primarily on the interaction between a user and a single art object. Such a framework, however, insufficiently describes the constitution of such an object. Within his treatise, Reassert is compelled to create tables of attributes and taxonomies to map and classify each of these objects. What is needed is a framework for discussing how these systems operate and how that operation contributes to an overall literary experience.

We want to make a clear distinction between this notion of cybernetic as a reading process and more thorough description of a work's infrastructure. Clearly, there are many ways in which the interaction between a reader and a piece of electronic literature can happen; for instance, a piece of electronic literature could be written in HTML or in Flash, yet presenting the same interaction with the reader. In this paper, we adapt the notion of n-tier information systems to provide a scaffolding for reading and interpreting works of electronic literature.

The fact that the field of electronic literature is largely comprised of cybernetic (in the sense described above) that require some sort of processing by the computer, has made of this processing a defining characteristic. Critics and public approach new works of electronic literature with the expectation of finding creativity and innovation not only at the narrative level but also at the processing level; in many cases the newness of the latter has dominated other considerations.

NEW, NEWER, NEWEST MEDIA Until now, electronic literature, or elite, has been focused on the new, leading to a constant drive to reinvent the wheel, the word, the image, the delivery system, and consequently reading itself. However, such an emphasis raises a number of questions. To what extent does the "novel" requirement of electronic literature (as he field is currently defined) De-emphasize a textual investment in exploring the (post)human condition ("the literary")? How does this emphasis on the "new" constrain the development of New Media both for authors and for prospective authors?

Or how does such an emphasis put elite authors into an artistic arms race taking on the theistic of the military-industrial complex that produces their tools? Literary essays that treat electronic literature focus on Flash movies, blobs, HTML pages, dynamically generated pages, conversation agents, computer games, and other software applications. A recent edition of Leonardo Almanac (AAA. W. 2006) David Small, the text art experiments of Augurs Khakis (2003), Brian Kim Stefan' 11- minute Flash performance, and Philippe Boot's matrix poetry program.

Though not all the objects are new, what they share most of all is the novelty of their surface or process or text. These works bear little resemblance to one another, a definitive characteristic of electronic literature (dissimilarity); however, their inclusion under one rubric reflects the field's beatification of the new. This addiction, mimicking that of the hard sciences it so admires, must constantly replace old forms and old systems with the latest system. Arguably, therefore, any piece of electronic literature may only be as interesting as its form or its novel use of the form.

Moreover, such an emphasis shifts the critical attention from the content (what we will call data) to its rendering (or presentation plus processes) primarily. Marie-Laurel Ryan (2005) raised charges against such an aesthetic in her _ditching- digital _ article. In this piece, she rails against a certain style of new media, net. Art, elite art object that follows WYSIWYG (What you see is _NOT_ what you get), where the surface presents a text that is considered interesting only because of a more interesting process beneath the surface. This approach, according to Ryan, focuses on "the meta-property of algorithmic operation. For this aesthetic, "the art resides in the productive formula, and in the sophistication of the programming, rather than in the output itself" (Ryan). This means that literary, or artistic value, does not reside in what appears on the screen, but in the virtuoso programming performance that underlies the text. While Ryan goes too far in her dismissal of experimentation, her critique holds, in as much as electronic literary criticism that puts process Auber Allis kiss not only minimizing the textual to insignificance but also losing what should be one of elite's biggest goals: developing new forms for other authors to use and explore.

Such an emphasis reveals a bias that has thus far dominated new media scholarship. This same bias leads new media scholars away from literary venues for their discourse communities and instead to Booing Booing and Serigraph, sites where curiosity or commercial technological development dominate the discussions. It is also what spells instant obsolescence to many outerwear forms. The person who uses outerwear as it was intended is not the new media artist. It is the person who uses it in a new way or who reconfigures the software to do something unintended.

This trend means that electronic literary artists will constantly be compelled to drive their works towards the new, even while it means a perpetual pruning of all prior outerwear, cutting them off from the"literary" tree. (We see this same logic in commercial software production where the 4. 0 release reconfigures the interface and removes some of the functionality we had grown to love. ) A disproportionate emphasis on the new overlooks the tremendous areas of growth n authorship on the stabilizing, if rudimentary, authoring systems.

The tide of stream of innovations but from people who are writing text in established author information formats, from traditional print to blobs. It is through the use of stabilized and reusable information systems that the greater public is being attracted to consume and produce content through digital media. Blobbing is the clearest example. This is not equivalent to saying that all blobbing is literary, Just as not all writing is; however, blobbing has created a social practice of reading and writing in chital media, thus increasing the frequency at which literary pieces appear through that venue.

This increased community activity would have been impossible if each flogger had to develop their own authoring systems. To help redistribute the scholarly priorities, we propose a reconsideration of electronic literature as an n-tier information system. The consequence of this shift will be twofold: First of all, it will allow us to treat content and processing independently, thus creating a clear distinction between works of literary merit and works of technological craftsmanship.

While this distinction is at best problematic, considering the information system as a whole will move the analysis away from over-privileging processes. Secondly, we claim that this approach provides a unified framework with which all pieces of electronic literature can be studied. This paper is organized as follows: in Section 1 (Introduction) we describe what is the problem we intend to explore, and what are the type of systems that will be described in this paper. Section 2 (Information Systems) explores the components of an information system and compares the approaches of different researchers in the lied.

Section 3 (Examples) demonstrates that the n-tier information system approach can be used to describe a multifarious array of pieces of electronic literature. Section 4 (Discussion) explores the conclusions drawn from this study and set future directions. INFORMATION SYSTEMS Since electronic literature is mediated by a computer, it is clear that there must exist methods to enter information into the system, to process it, and to render an output for readers; that is to say, a piece of electronic literature can be considered as an _information system_. The term "information system" has different meanings.

For instance, in mathematics an "information system" is a basic knowledge- representation matrix comprised of attributes (columns) and objects (rows). In sociology, "information systems" are systems whose behavior is determined by goals of individual as well as technology. In our context, "information system" will refer to a set of persons and machines organized to collect, store, transform, and represent data, a definition which coincides with the one widely accepted in computer science. The domain-specific twist comes when we specify that the data contains, but is not limited to, literary information.

Information systems, due to their complexity, are usually built in layers. The earliest Reengages who proposed in 1979, while visiting the Smalltalk group at Xerox PARA, a pattern known as Model-View-controller (MFC) that intended to isolate the process layer from the presentation layer. This paradigm evolved during the next decade to give rise to multi-tier architectures, in which presentation, data and processes were isolated. In principle, it is possible to have multiple data tiers, multiple process tiers, and multiple presentation tiers.

One of the most prominent paradigms to approach information systems in the field of computer science, and the one we deem more appropriate for electronic literature, is the 3-tier architecture (Checkers, 1995). This paradigm indicates that processes of different categories should be encapsulated in three different layers: 1 . Presentation Layer: The physical rendering of the narrative piece, for example, a sequence of physical pages or the on-screen presentation of the text. 2. Process Layer: The rules necessary to read a text.

A reader of Latin alphabet in printed narrative, for example, must cross the text from left to right, from top to OTTOMH and pass the page after the last word of the last line. In digital narrative, this layer could contain the rules programmed in a computer to build a text output. 3. Data Layer: Here lays the text itself. It is the set of words, images, video, etc. , which form the narrative space. In the proposed 3-tier model, feedback is not only possible, but also a _sine qua non_ condition for the literary exchange. It is the continuation of Muscleman's mantra: "the media is the message".

In digital narrative, the media acts on the message. The cycle of feedback in digital narrative is: (I) Readers receive a piece of information, and eased on it they execute a new interaction with the system. (it) The computer then takes that input and applies logic rules that have been programmed into it by the author. (iii) The computer takes content from the data layer and renders it to the reader in the presentation layer. (v) step -I - is repeated again. Steps I through v describe a complete cycle of feedback, thus the maximum realization of a cybernetic.

N-tier information systems have had, surprisingly, a relatively short penetration in the field of electronic literature. Reassert (1997, p. 62) introduced a typology for his extension that maps perfectly a 3-tier system: Scripting ("strings as they appear to readers") correspond to the presentation layer, Textron ("strings as they exist in the text") correspond to the data layer, and traversal function ("the mechanism by which scripting are revealed or generated from Textron and presented to the user") corresponds to the process layer.

These neologisms, while necessary if we study all forms of textually, are unnecessary if we focus on electronic literature. The methods developed in computer science permeate constantly, and at an accelerating rate, the lied of electronic literature, specially as artists create pieces of increasing complexity. Practitioners in the field of electronic literature will be better equipped to benefit from the advances in information technology if the knowledge acquired in dialog are thwarted.

The first reference that used computer science terminology applied to electronic literature appeared in an article by Guttering (2002), in which the three layers (data, logic and presentation) were clearly defined and proposed as a paradigm for electronic literature. Guttering (2004, 2006) explored in detail the logic (middle) layer, reposing algorithms to manage the processes needed to deliver literary content through electronic media. His proposal follows the paradigm proposed by Checkers (1995) and Jacobson et al (1999): the system is divided into (a) topological stationary components, (b) users, (c) and transient components (processes).

The processes in the system are analyzed and represented using sequence diagrams to depict how the actions of the users cause movement and transformation of information across different topological components. The next reference belongs to Wayward-Fruit (2006); he proposes not three, but seven monuments: (I) author, (it) data, (iii) process, (iv) surface, (v) interaction, (v') outside processes, and (vii) audiences. This vision corresponds to an extensive research in diverse fields, and the interpretation is given from a literary perspective.

Even though Wayward-Fruit does not use the terminology already established in computer science, nor he makes a clear distinction between topology, actors and processes, his proposal is essentially equivalent, and independent, from Stricture's model. In Wayward-Bruin's model, author -I- and audience -vii- correspond to actors in the Unified Process (UP); process -iii- and interaction -v- correspond to the process layer in the 3-tier architecture (how the actors move information across layers and how it is modified); data -ii- maps directly the data layer in the 3-tier model; finally, surface -iv- corresponds to the presentation layer.

The emergence of these information systems approaches marks the awareness that these new literary forms arise from the world of software and hence benefit from traditional computer science approaches to software. In the Language of New Media, Level Invoice called for such analysis under the rubric of Software Studies. Applying the schematics of computer science to electronic literature allows critics to consider the complexities of that literature without falling prey to the tendency to colonize electronic literature with literary theory, as Aspen Reassert warned in Cybernetic.

Such a framework provides a terminology rather than the imposition of yet another taxonomy or set of metaphors that will always prove to be both helpful and glaringly insufficient. That is not to say that n-tier approaches fit works without conflict. In fact, some of the most fruitful readings come from the pieces that complicate the n-tier distinctions. EXAMPLES DREAMING 1 & 2: REVISING OUR SYSTEMS model can open up the complexities and ironies of works of electronic literature.

Nelson is an auteur of interfaces, and in the first version of this piece he transforms the two-dimensional screen into a three-dimensional navigable space full of various planes. The interaction travels through these planes, encountering texts on them, documentation of the disease. It is as if we are traveling through the data structure of the story itself, as if the data has been brought to the surface. Though in strict terms, the data is where it always was supposed to be.

Each plane is an object, rendered in Flash on the fly by the processing of the navigation input and the production of vector graphics to fill the screen. However, Nelsons' work distances us, alienates us from the visual metaphors that we have taken for the physical structures of data in the computer. Designers of operating systems work hard to naturalized our relationship to our information. Opening windows, shuffling folders, becomes not a visual manifestation but the transparent glimpse of the structures themselves.

Neal Stephenson has written very persuasively on the effect of replacing the command nine interface with these illusions. The story (or data) behind the piece is the tale of a virus epidemic, whose primary symptom is the constant repetition of a dream. Nelson writes of the virus' "drifting eyes. " Ultimately the disease proves fatal, as patients go insane then comatose. Here the piece is evocative of the repetitive alexia of classical electronic literature, information systems that lead the reader into the same texts as a natural component of traversing the narrative.

Of course, the disease also describes the interface of the planes that the user travels through, one after the other, semi-transparent planes, ramekin visions. This version of Dreaming was not the only one Nelson published. In 2004, Nelson published a second interface. Nelson writes of the piece, "Unfortunately the first version of Dreaming suffered from usability problems. The main interface was unwieldy (but pretty) and the books hard to find (plus the occasional computer crash)" ("Dreaming, _LLC 1_) He reconciled of the piece in two dimensions to create a more stable interface.

The second version is two-dimensional and Nelson has also "added a few more extra bits and readjusted the medical reports. In the terms of n-tier, his changes primarily affected the interface and the data layers. Here is the artist of the interface facing the uncanny return of their own artistic creation in a world where information systems do not lie in the stable binding in a book but in a contingent state that is always dependent on the environments (operating systems) and frames (browser) in which they circulate.

As the user tries to find a grounding in the spaces and lost moments of the disease, Nelson himself attempts to build stability into that which is always shifting. However, do to a reticular difference in the way that Firebox 2. 0 renders Flash at the processing layer, interaction will discover that the"opening" page of the second version is squeezed into a fraction of their window, rather than expanding to fill the entire window. The words of these books, their dreams, contain the cure. But where is the pattern? In sleeping the same dream came again.

How long before I become another lost? " ("opening"). As we compare these two versions of the same information system, we see the same dream coming again. The first version haunts the second as we ask when will it, too, become one of the lost. Though Nelson himself seems to have an insatiable appetite for novel interfaces, his own artistic practices resonate well with the ethos of this article. At speaking engagements, he has made it a practice to bring his interfaces, his . Flat (Flash source) files, for the attendees to take and use as they please.

Nelson presents his information systems with a humble declaration that the audience may no doubt be able to find even more powerful uses for these interfaces. GALATEA: NOVELTY RETURNS Emily Short's ground-breaking work of interactive fiction offers another work that, like TTS namesake in the piece, opens up to this discussion when approached carefully. Galena's presentation layer appears to be straight forward IF fare. The interaction is a critic, encountering Galatea, which appears to be a statue of a woman but then begins to move and talk.

In this novel work of interactive fiction, the interaction will not find the traditional special navigation verbs (go, open, throw) to be productive, as the action focuses on one room. Likewise will other verbs prove themselves unhelpful as the user is encouraged in the help instructions to "talk" or "ask" about topics. In Short's piece, the navigational system of IF, as it was originally instantiated in Adventure, begins to mimic a conversational system driven by keywords, ala Joseph Whizz-bang's ELISE. Spelunking through a cave is replaced with conversing through an array of conversational replies.

Galatea does not always answer the same way. She has moods, or rather, your relationship with Galatea has levels of emotion. The logic layer proves to be more complex than the few verbs portend. The hunt is to figure out the combination that leads to more data. Galatea uses a novel process to put the user in the position of a safe cracker, trying to unlock the treasure of answers. Notice how novelty has re-emerged as a key attribute here. Could there be a second Galatea? Could someone write another story using Galena's processes.

Technically no, since the work was released in a No-Derives Creative Commons license. However, in many ways, Galatea is a second, coming in the experimental wave of artistic revisions of interactive fiction that followed the demise of the commercially produced text adventures from Inform and others. Written in Z- Machine format, Galatea is already remaining an information system. It is a new ark written in the context of Infusion's interactive fiction system. Short's work is admittedly novel in its processes, but the literary value of this work is not defined by create are rich and full of literary allusions.

Short has gone on to help others make their own Galatea, not only in her work to help develop the natural language IF authoring system Inform 7 but also in the conversation libraries she has authored. In doing so, she moved into the work of other developers of authoring systems, such as the makers of catboat systems. Richard S. Wallace developed one of the most popular of these (A. I. M. L.. Boot), and his work demonstrates the power of creating and sharing outerwear, even in the context of the tyranny of the novel. A. L. I. C. E. Is the base-line conversational system, which can be downloaded and customized.

Downloading the basic, functioning A. L. I. C. E. catboat as a foundation allows users to concentrate on editing recognizable inputs and systematic responses. Rather than worrying about how the system will respond to input, authors, or poetasters, can focus on creating what they system will say. To gain respect as a poetaster/author, one cannot merely modify an out-of-the-box ALICE. The user should further customize or build from the ground up using MAIL, artificial intelligence markup language, the site-specific language created for Wallach's system.

They must change the way the system operates--largely, because the critical attention around catboats follows more the model of scientific innovation more than literary depth. However, according to Wallace, despite the critics' emphasis on innovations, the users have been flocking to ALICE, as tens of thousands of users have created catboats using the system (Be Your Own Poetaster). MAIL becomes an important test case because while users may access some elements of he system, because they are not changing fundamentals, they can only make limited forays into the scientific/innovation catboat discussions.

Thus while our n-tier model stresses the importance of creating outerwear and understanding information systems, novelty still holds an important role in the development of electronic literature. Nonetheless, interaction can at least use their pre-existing literates when they encounter an MAIL Boot or a work of interactive fiction written on a familiar platform.