Judy Malloy, Editor

Mark C. Marino
Marginalia in the Library of Babel
Software: Diigo
a show of hands
Software: Literatronica

Mark C. Marino is a new media writer whose work has appeared in the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 2 of the Electronic Literature Collection, The Iowa Review Web, Hypperhiz, The New River Journal, and SpringGun Press. Marino's current work also includes netprovs (often with Rob Wittig) and electronic literature for children, created with his family.

A noted collaborative scholar in the digital humanities, he teaches writing at the University of Southern California, where he directs the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab, including the Critical Code Studies Working Groups. Additionally, in 2011, he taught Game Studies and Critical Code Studies as a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Bergen. He is also Director of Communication for the Electronic Literature Organization.

Mark Marino is the editor of Bunk Magazine, an online digital satire zine and a writer on Writer Response Theory. His works creatively explore contemporary culture and issues. Inventive, interesting, and utilizing a wide range of software and applications, among many others, they include Stravinsky's Muse; Labyrinth: The Rulebook without Game; 12 Easy Lessons to Better Time Travel, and The LA Flood Project, a collaborative locative narrative.

Marino contributes two commentaries to Authoring Software. The first is Marginalia in the Library of Babel, which uses Diigo to create a fascinating work of literary information art.

"It starts with Borges. It always starts with Borges, the god of our hyperlinked souls," Marginalia begins. "I fight the solitude of the vertigo he has imagined for me, and yet I may have finally found a way out of the labyrinth."

The second is a show of hands, a work of electronic literature that Marino has also adapted into a stage production. a show of hands is written with the adaptive hypertext system Literatronica, (aka Literatronic) created by Juan B. Guiterrez. In Marino's words, a show of hands

"takes advantage of the system by offering the re-shuffleable lives of a Mexican American family, with storylines chopped up telenovela-style. Yet, their fates pull them inevitably toward the May 1 Immigration Reform marches."

For more information about Mark C. Marino, visit his homepage at http://markcmarino.com

Mark Marino
Marginalia in the Library of Babel

Marginalia begins with a narrator contemplating the infinity of the Borgesian Library of Babel, one that is and is not embodied by the World Wide Web. One reading of that story can lead to utter despair, at least for authors. It is the embodiment of the infinite monkeys typing Shakespeare. What has been and will be written, the monkeys (and hence machines) could produce (although the monkey would pay a higher price in repeated stress injuries).

But the narrator has made a discovery. Technology that enables him to make his mark upon these pages. He has discovered social bookmarking and social annotation, which has allowed him to annotate this already written world, and then to share these annotations -- opening up the possibility of not just gaining some power over the infinite (assuming that's possible) and communicating his little missives to others. He is writing his stories by talking to himself while pacing the halls of the Internet.

There are two versions of this story that offer much of the same content but that are essentially different.

The first version uses (and was inspired by) Diigo social annotation software, a browser-based plugin that allows users to annotate live web pages and make them public. The story itself begins with the discovery of this technology. A kind of elation over possibility that is always dogged by a fear of erasure, of being engulfed by the chaos of content that amasses in this Library of Babel. This version lives here:


Changes to the latest version of Diigo (version 3) have corrupted this current version.

The second version uses custom built javascript to simulate Diigo annotations on any web pages. These web pages cached versions. The second version is here: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/journals/newriver/07Fall/marino/index.html
The reason for the second version is one of the constant tropes of New Media: archiving and preservation. While I don't know the future of Diigo or even the web pages I annotated (indeed some of them live in the Internet Archive already, a.k.a the Wayback Machine), I do know that these pages will run on most browsers for the foreseeable future.

To publish this story in New River Journal and to assure that the notes would be visible, I had to get some help building a standalone annotation system, one that is, ironically, not social. The pages had to go from living, breathing Web pages to copies. And such is the battle that we word soldiers must wage as we make our pretty little marks upon these ever-shifting pages, which blow away like sand at the slightest breeze.

Additional info on the story is here:


Mark Marino
a show of hands

A show of hands is the second piece of electronic literature written for and on the adaptive hypertext system Literatronica. Literatronica was built by Juan B. Guiterrez (and others) for the Colombian government. Since then he has built it out into an electronic literary system open to any authors.

Literatronica answers some of the main problems in electronic hypertext. First, it always allows you to see how much you have left to read (answering a complaint by Espen Aarseth about that feeling of bottomlessness in the loch of literary hypertext). It also ensures that you always see new material (answering a complaint by Chris Crawford about the dead branches of tree-structured narratives). [Users need to register as a user or guest before they begin reading] The system adapts to your reading, keeping track of where you've been and helping you go to the most logical next story moment or passage (or least logical, if that's your poison).

"a show of hands" takes advantage of the system by offering the re-shuffleable lives of a Mexican American family, with storylines chopped up telenovela-style. Yet, their fates pull them inevitably toward the May 1 Immigration Reform marches. The system proved ideal for allowing authors to follow the family members they were interested in even as they watched an overall story with a definite arc. Because I was only the second author in the system, I was able to make requests of Juan -- to not only receive tech support but to receive authorware support as my narrative problem because his programming puzzle. Literatronica evolved as "a show of hands" evolved. And it continues to evolve through his work on the Global Poetic System (a GPS-enabled poetry system to be rolled out for ePoetry 2009 in Barcelona.)

Juan is interested in helping others use Literatronica (aka Literatronic) to build their stories. He presented it at ELO Visionary Landscapes and Hypertext 08. He is always looking for new authors to come use the system and help it develop into a more robust authoring tool.

Authoring Software


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