This is “The Internovel.”
The Internovel, a 10,000 word, dialog-based novella, is set in the transitional space between the ASCII internet of 1992 and the HMTL Internet of 1997. I wrote it in the spring of 1996, and you really need to consider it my version of “my shitty college art film.”
The Internet was a funny place in 1994. The World Wide Web was being used to do cutting edge things like allow people to keep track of the levels of coffee in a pot in a computer lab in England. Dial up services that were not AOL typically offered users the option of using a Terminal-based interface, and PPP or TCP was a luxury that often required a special login and administrative permission. It was a text-based Internet. – But change was coming. ASCII was giving way to Hypertext. That’s the world this novella was composed in, and the world it was composed around.
It was never meant to be a period piece, and I have resisted the effort to go back and make it so. I share it today as a time capsule of the Internet as it affected a Midwestern college town in the Spring 1994.
It’s probably not fair to call it good writing, and in fact, the novellas near total lack of narrative was a thought experiment I was playing with. I was hoping that by working only in dialoged I could blur the line between textual, electronic, immediate, and delayed conversation.
Today’s computers, high speed connections, multi-core processors and always-on-Internet life-streams make fifteen years ago seems so far away now-- and so foreign.
Because they is.
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