Digital Literature: A New Genre?


A few weeks ago, our Editor Deborah Kim wrote about the co-existence of digital and print media. This week, I want to explore how digital media changes not only the way we access literature, but also the way we write literature.

In the above TED talk, “Shake up your story,” Raghava KK describes his children’s book for the iPad, Pop It. The most intriguing aspect of this book is what happens when you shake it: the parents change between two fathers, two mothers, and a mother and a father. With this interactive feature, three different perspectives are presented almost simultaneously as they are all only a shake away. With each shake, only the parents change, revealing that the family interaction and the overall story do not depend on the sexuality of the parents. Rather, it is simply another perspective of the same story. Raghava argues that children should learn perspective as soon as possible because perspective is the key to empathy and creativity.

Raghava’s book reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s short story, “Happy Endings.” In this work of meta-fiction, Atwood begins with “John and Mary meet. What happens next? If you want a happy ending, try A.” She then presents multiple successive endings from A to F, separated by headings and line breaks. The multiple endings do not occur simultaneously; rather, the endings occur in the order you choose to read them.

In Raghava’s book, however, all the points of view are equal to each other because they are accessible within the same story. There aren’t three different stories for the three sets of parents. Instead, Pop It suggests that multiple versions of a single story are all valid. This idea might be confusing on the written page, but on the iPad, the timing is fluid and allows multiple perspectives while still providing the reader with an unchanging referential, such as the setting, to orient himself in the world of the story. >>READ MORE

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