Books without Pages – Readers without Futility

The reading extract from Douglas, J. Yellowlees’ The End of Books — Or Books Without End? has geared and prompted responses, I assume, from many students on their own conception of the book, its significance, its future, and the spectre of technology over it’s prospective redundancy.

Yellowlees’ exposition on interactive narratives is one I found quite captivating and a discourse I hadn’t before come across. While intrigued, I found that in it’s reading the article made me more aware of what I love about the traditional book, and where the interactive narrative falls manifestly short in these qualities.

Yellowlees writes:

“Because readers of interactive narratives can enjoy this newfound liberty to make choices and decide what deserves to become an “end- ing” to the stories they read, they also discover something that approximates Archimedes’ fulcrum and level place to stand: a relative freedom that enables them to determine the satisfactions that closure is made of. Before this, closure was something we could describe and codify, but it was not something that we could examine outside of its role as a given.”

A critical piece of this interactive narrative epistemology is the notion of “satisfaction” determination and the operation of closure. What is closure in literature? I don’t know – but I would postulate that it is nothing, if not an acute and poignant mechanism an author possesses to mediate, convey meaning, incite a desired response or provoke thought.

The unique futility of the reading experience for me is the seductive and irresistible quality to the traditional narrative. The solidarity experienced when reading a narrative that is utterly intelligible, comprehensible and engrossing is only heightened by a lack of control, and a surrender of agency to a fictional world.

In this sense, being carried through fiction blindfolded with no agency and zero control over the plot and it’s contingencies is a sensational thing. Our will is tested in a way that it is not in our own lives. But we have the agency to put it down, but if it is good enough, isn’t it fantastic that we do not?

Seemingly, it is this voidance of agency and consumption in author determination and decision-making that makes the traditional narrative, from a personal perspective, a worthwhile thing to do. The futility and vulnerability of the reader are the prime catalysts in the experience of any meaningful reaction, emotion, indignity, pathos, salvation or any varying degree of closure that any individual may or may not feel. And it is this arrangement that allows the traditional narrative to edify our lives and our perspectives of the world in a totally different way to how the interactive narrative would.


In what is perhaps the biggest feather in the Internets cap to date (Sorry Kony, Miley and most of all FarmVille), anonymous thieves have returned a Melbourne bands Fender Combo Amp after the #Ampgate saga came to it’s close. So the story pretty much goes a guy in a fedora (pictured above) and his scumbag in crime stole a prized piece of equipment from the Smith Street Band. Did I say one of them was wearing a fedora?

Following this pettiest of petty thefts, the SMB frontman Will Wagner issued this plea:

“On Saturday night (technically Sunday morning), at around 2.30am someone stole my Fender combo amp off the stage at The Old Bar,” wrote the 22-year-old songwriter online. “If you saw anything or know someone that did please let us know. I would much rather just get the amp back than get police involved but I will if I have to because we leave for tour in 10 days and I’d kind of like to use an amp.”

#Ampgate quickly gained legs online, and subsequently Black Fedora contacted the band to talk business.

The back and forth bargaining between Fedora and Wagner was played out miraculously online via various social media accounts, and the crooks “agreed to return the amp by taxi to a mutual location,”according to Wagner. Ofcourse, keeping the #Ampgate readership up to date and first in the know, he added – “I will be the first to know when it arrives, you all will be next.”

“The Eagle Has Landed!” confirmed Wagner on reclaiming the internets most infamous amp, and I am stoked to tell you justice prevailed with aid of hypertext.

I think this incarnation of the internet as law enforcer, crook catcher and fedora shamer is the best one. Sigourney Weaver, ladies and gentlemen.


Okay I just can’t deal with this anymore. (These statements have no political bias, I don’t like either of the major parties)

In three days, the Opposition Leader and in all likelihood the next leader of our country has dropped “suppository of wisdom,” defined a female candidates worth to her local electorate as her “sex appeal,” and labelled marriage equality as “the fashion of the moment.”

Apart from building an amazing dossier of ‘Im a F***ing Halfwit Moron” moments showing he has the elegance and guile of a drunk elephant, Abbott has just made me plain afraid of the proposition that Australia will have a leader who belongs in the 1600’s.

He called the pass he made at Lindsay Scott “a dad moment.” A dad moment? what? is that what dads even do? daddy?

Yesterday, If I was his openly gay sister Christine, I would have choked on my snickers. If anyone I know dismissed my openly gay friends or family for something so trivial I’d expect mutiny – and this would be the same for most of my generation – so why is this guy even in the conversation to lead, and why can’t young people kind of make this a little bit more of an issue as opposed to the totally inadequate oxygen its receiving.

I don’t know what anyone under the age of 50 could see in this guy other than an antiquated old fool with a predilection for suppositories. The guy couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, has the conversational skills of a cornflake and he’s seriously starting to creep me out.


On Monday Jasmine’s short and sharp entrance into the fold was as interesting as it was a touch brief for herself and Elliot. Her speculations on What Is Not Yet To Be and how such notions are appropriated in science-fiction certainly complimented the Matthew Ward reading beautfiully. I’ve always thought of my mind as one that is missing the acute ‘creative’ element, prefering to analyse in hindsight rather than forecast and conceive patently new ideas. Jasmine’s intervention and Wards postulations seemed to starkly bring into focus an idea that appears critically important and useful, and something that in my life and learning has been unregistered or perhaps underrated.

The ablity to conceive futures, speculate on how they will work, and contend with reason on what life would look like if they come to pass is what I took from The Jas and ‘Design Fiction as a pedagogic practice’, and they appear as inherently useful tools in a modern landscape with seemingly more infinite possibilities than ever (if there could be levels of infiniteness).

The notion of Design Fiction as a pegadogic practice interested me as it appeared to show up education models that I have known and thought were oak, and knowledge in this area would now be such a utility in any practice or effort I undertake. But all is not lost, for we have The Jas.

Why I think it would be so handy is because it totally reframes and recasts the notions of critique, analysis and rationlisation myself and perhaps others have been plying these methods to. I speak of The Essay, The Science Phenomena, The Langauge Analysis etc. These are things that Are and we see them as such, and scrutinise them as a marker and reflection on our intellect as the all important ablity to analyse.

But rather than doing as such to What Is, Design Fiction as a pedagogic practice made me think that perhaps we could have been implementing these rules and expanding them by speculating on what could be. The benifits seem manifest:

. Developing the ablity to speculate on futures that are benifical society and could progress the world.

. An ability to adress the intermiediary steps and vehicles to realise these.

. Develop the ability to develop rational and justifiable cause-and-effect thought mechanisms. See things before others etc.

.Also see and speculate on the advent and consequences of new technolgy when it comes to be.

Conceiving and comparing contingencies and debating why is one better than another could have perhaps been as useful as any essay I’ve ever done. The ablity to speculate on what could be and why is a practice of rational and imaginative reason that appears underrated as a pedagogic practice and a method I don’t think I ever came across in my learning to date. I wish I was more strictly challenged to abstractly create at SOME (not total) expense of analysing Shakespeare or Salinger…in any future endeavour I feel like that trade off would have been handy.

‘Home’ and its relationship with ‘design fiction’

Following the Matthew Ward reading on ‘design fiction as a pedagogic practice,’ I was left intrigued by the assertion that “all design is fiction.”  It is true that design as a practice never exists in the “here and now,” but to me design appears to be contingent on varying degrees of imagination and speculation, versus proven science and necessary intervention. That said, does the minds conception of utopia and future gadgets as per Corning’s “a day made of glass” versus architecture and plans for a replacement public toilet in your local park involve varying degrees of ‘fiction’ or ‘design fiction’?
Both are as Ward says: for a world and set of conditions that are “yet to be.”

The first video for a music project I’m involved in called ‘The Trotskies’ was released last night, and the editor worked under our complex design parameters of “you know, just kind of make it look weird and abstract.” Subsequently, in the time between shooting and production all band members continued to speculate about what the end product would be, explaining to each other with conceptions of fiction what “wierdness” our editor could and would produce.

The concepts and applications of design fiction Ward puts forward have made me rethink this whole process of a video, especially done under the guise of musical art aesthetics, and it’s production process of idea development, planning and possibilities.

Maritime Misgivings

Since my first attempt at integration into ‘The Network’, via my blog SandM (more an initialism of mine and my friend Max’s names than an insight into our private lives), our initial undertakings to keep anyone silly enough to read our stuff apprised of the latest series of The Mole was an overwhelming fail. The intentions were good: keep such individuals up to date with an over dramatic guilty pleasure while we hone and develop our writing skills with playful frivolity. You can’t be serious if your writing is no good was our premise, or rather, the premise was an excuse just to write about The Mole…because what else would spark us into action to start excitedly getting together and doing this thing they call blogging?

Alas, The Mole had clearly and expectedly jumped the shark and I too had fears of burnout, and was faced with the decidedly embarrassing reality that even The Mole had lasted infinitely longer than myself.

A small preamble I’d like to bring to note before continuing. My first post titled ‘Gambit’ spoke of “the prospect and challenge of a program that incentivises and rewards proactivity.” I aim to eschew writing such lame and obligatory things that we might perhaps feel at times obliged to comment on, because, you know, “thats what we took from the Unlecture.” In lieu of explicitly mentioning ‘Unlectures’ and ‘readings’ and all these not so exciting parts of NM course jargon, I will try to involve these ideas more implicitly. Starting…….now. Here’s hoping it works. To be honest, I am abashed and reeling after only two days ago writing, so inspirationally might I add, that I feel “obliged to seize the chance for authorship and reap the benefits this space has to offer.”

If saying that is frowned upon by those surveilling this course and this domain (and I doubt it would be), then I think that in itself is an inherent contradiction of this space’s purpose: Honest thoughts and ideas, expressed in this space. And besides, I don’t think anyone really wants to hear my thoughts on this weeks ‘speculative metaphor.’ A recent boat trip in Queensland tells me I would have lasted about 2 seconds on that “unkempt” and “dishevelled” vessel.


It is now time to void the vile and unremitting concern that my musings are totally irrelevant and disinteresting.

The prospect and challenge of a program that incentivises and rewards proactivity is one I meet with tentative enthusiasm. Having gone through the motions during my degree thus far, I feel inclined and obliged to seize the chance for authorship and reap the benefits this space has to offer. It was patently obvious that a reactive approach will render Networked Media very tricky. Passing – for most – is the end game, and gaining knowledge or skill can often be secondary to that all important P, as we go through our respective courses with detached engagement. Doing the bare minimum for that precious P is not totally reprehensible, but something more exacting and demanding encourages reflection on why are we even doing this – and the ‘why’ is a point of examination that is non existent in any subject I have done before.