When reading Vniverse, I had a rather different experience than the rest of the class because I chose to spend most of my time reading the text on the 2014 iPad app rather than the 2002 flash website. I think it is an amazing credit to Stephanie Strickland as a digital author that she is choosing to make sure her text is evolving even now, 13 years after its initial publication. Vniverse the iPad app was released in 2014. The app goes beyond what was the website was able to do by the integration of the iPad’s touch screen, which adds another level of interactivity that cannot be achieved by pointing and clicking with a mouse, which itself is just so far beyond reading words on a page. I’m incredibly interested in the fact that Strickland has chosen to come back to the text and rework it for newer forms of technology, which is something that (so far) we haven’t really seen in class: digital authors choosing to update their electronic work to stay relevant.
From what I can tell regarding the textual differences between the website and the iPad app, the app seems to have significantly simplified the text down to the point that each star in the constellation represents one word, as opposed to a work with a number and a phrase from Waveson.nets below it. When reading Stephanie Strickland’s Waveson.nets, I mostly only focused on the lyricism of the words rather than delving deeply into the allusions and references, and the app seems to be celebrating that method of approach. The app’s focus seems to be the user creating their own poetry just with the words given to them by Strickland, rather than arranging whole phrases written by Strickland.
The app seems to put a lot more responsibility and trust in the reader than the original website, which I think shows a huge evolution in interactivity that properly corresponds with the evolution of technology over the past 13 years. Our lives are now so innovated with interactive technology that a reader no longer needs to be guided through the piece by the author to get a full understanding. To the modern reader, websites are now as common in everyday life and as easily understood as books, and when comparing the Vniverse website to a website made within the last two years, Vniverse seems rather outdated and almost boring. The app, in my opinion, was a very necessary and important transition in the life of the text, because it seems almost all electronic literature pieces have a shelf life before their software/technology becomes completely irrelevant due to new technology.
The most interesting new aspect of Vniverse in the 2014 update to me is the “Oracle” function. By clicking the “Oracle” button at the top of the screen, you are given a selection of question to ask the constellation:
How to know?
What do I love?
Where to build a bridge?
When did you say?
After selecting a question, the app responds with selecting random stars from the constellation that appear and quickly disappear before the reader. For example, when I clicked “What do I love?” the stars “cradle”, “chalice”, “virginity”, “Archaic”, and “end” were illuminated momentarily. I’m not really sure what exactly to do with this new aspect to the text, but I do think it is super cool and adds a whole new level of interactivity between the reader and the piece of literature. Perhaps someone else would want to comment some ideas as to why they think this new feature was added and how they think it has helped to evolve the text?