Contributing to Wikipedia

Navigation and Reader Experience

Electronic Literature is a relatively new form of reading that introduces the reader to the concept of navigation. Navigation is a component that greatly affects the audience’s experience with electronic literature. Jessica Pressmen discusses the topic of navigation in her online article Navigating Electronic Literature. Pressman states, “Unlike print literature, electronic literature does not consist of stable, inscribed marks on a print page; rather, it emerges as a processural performance across codes and circuitry within the computer and in response to interactions from the reader.’ Types of navigational interactions include the ability of clicking on hyperlinks from a hypertexts and typing a response to add to the narrative prompt in an interactive fiction. There is also the form of becoming a virtual character and having to guide this character through a story in order to obtain more information. This concept is just like the interactive exploration simulator, Gone Home.

David Golumbia, author of Games Without Play, brings up the topic of whether games are work or play. He argues that playing an actual game is just like work and that the completion of the game is what actually brings pleasure to the player. This brings the idea back to navigation and reader experience. Since Gone Home requires the audience to search an entire house (navigation) in order to locate more information, this affects the player’s experience if the player has found enough information. Navigation is not only about how the reader moves through electronic literature, but how one is able to read the types of digital work. Which hyperlink one chooses to click on or what the reader decides to input as a response in an interactive fiction affects where the reader is brought to next and the overall engagement with it.


Pressman, Jessica. Navigating Electronic Literature. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Golumbia, David. Games Without Play. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

Gaynor, Steve; Remo, Chris. Gone Home. August 15, 2013.


Literature began a gradual transition into the digital world beginning with new advancements in technology. These advancements made literature more accessible. In 1934, the first long audiobook recordings were made to hold short stories and chapter books.[4] The first official e-book to be accepted occurred in 1971.

Although there were several contenders to the invention of an electronic book prior to this, Michael Hart has been accepted as the official inventor of the e-book. Hart created an electronic document of the United States Declaration of Independence.[5]

Online diaries, which were the precursor of blogging, began in approximately 1994 with journalists keeping accounts of their personal lives.[6] Online diaries transitioned into the present day form of blogging. On May 15, 1999 the short form, “blog,” was first used by Peter Merholz, when he jokingly broke the word “weblog’ into the phrase “we blog” in the sidebar of his blog. Shortly after, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used “blog” as both a noun and verb (“to blog,” meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”) and devised the term “blogger” in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.[6]

The first ebook reader that utilized electronic paper, the process of mimicking the appearance of ink on paper, was the Sony Libre and it was released in 2004.[7] The Sony Libre has since been followed by ebook readers produced from a variety of companies with different sizes, lighting, and capabilities.

Scott McCloud, author of the article Understanding Comics, uses examples of the cave-dwelling times to inform his audience that subjects, like literature, started centuries ago.

Literature has even been present during the Renaissance time period. Espen J. Aarseth states “In the Renaissance, however, the idea of the labyrinth, both in literature and visual art, was reduced to the multicursal paradigm that we recognize today. Consequently, the old metaphor of the text as labyrinth, which in medieval poetics could signify both a difficult, winding, but potentially rewarding linear process and a spatial, artistically complex, and confusing artifact, was restricted to the latter sense.’

Digital literature now includes almost every form of literature possible, ranging from texts that have been created as digital files to texts that have been written completely as a digital literature source with no print source.


McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics.  

Espen, J. Aarseth. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.


I chose to add the category of navigation and reader experience. The reason behind this choice is that I believe this certain category plays a huge role in electronic literature. Although the wikipedia article on electronic literature already has information about contexts like the history, some background information, and definitions, I felt like there was a huge amount of content missing that had to do with the actual reading part and experience you feel while reading electronic literature. After rereading Jessica Pressman’s article, I stumbled upon one of her ideas that I felt to be very informative.

Pressman states, “Unlike print literature, electronic literature does not consist of stable, inscribed marks on a print page; rather, it emerges as a processural performance across codes and circuitry within the computer and in response to interactions from the reader.”

Adding in the category of navigation and reader experience gives the individual who is reading this wikipedia article a sense of more than just the factual information.

For the revised portion, I decided to add a section about Scott McCloud’s article, Understanding Comics. I felt like this would be a good addition to the History category of this wikipedia page since a good amount of McCloud’s examples had to do with the cave-dwelling times, showing how literature, as well as many other things, began centuries ago.



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