7. Mark Amerika – Bonington Lecture Theatre, Nottingham.

Positioning yourself as an Internet writer and artist, and going on to build a successful academic career from it, is all very well – but, as my similarly underwhelmed friend pointed out at the end of this interminably tedious lecture, it does generally help if you have at least some vague semblance of a literary background. In its absence, all we were left with was a clunking, shallow pseudo-profundity (“nomadic gurus of the electrosphere”, indeed!) wrapped up in layers of supposedly “innovative” and “experimental” technique, which wouldn’t even have made the grade on a late night Channel 4 show from ten years ago (back in those happy far-off days when Channel 4 still showed experimental artsy-fartsy videos instead of feral tit-and-bum-fests). This supposedly cutting-edge wow-iness was also badly undercut by the way that Mark Amerika displayed his various websites to us, opening each one in a titchy little window and then having to scroll left/right/up/down to show us all the content. (It was all I could do not to stand up and shout “Maximise! And press F11! For all our sakes!”)

Nevertheless, Mark Amerika’s talk did inspire me on one level: if he can get away with calling himself an “online writer”, then I most certainly can too. “Oh yes, I’m an online writer. Working with words and images, I deploy a variety of multi-disciplinary techniques to distribute my work in a broadly reverse-chronological format, in a medium which seeks to build overlapping networks of disparate yet interlinked online quasi-communities, whilst simultaneously encouraging active participation from community members in which the boundaries of “provider” and “consumer” are gradually broken down by means of an iterative process of… Well, you get the picture.

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