The fourth volume of the Electronic Literature Collection (ELC) was published on June 1, 2022 towards the end of the ELO’s annual conference at Como, Italy. ELC4 was edited by Kathi Inman Berens, John Thomas Murray, Lyle Skains, Rui Torres and Mia Zamora. The collection represents a wide variety of works from 42 countries. The enhanced participation in the ELC4 compared to its previous collections shows the global recognition of e-lit (see Zuern 2007, Zuern 2011,ABOUT ELC3 and ABOUT ELC4). The 132 electronic literary works are produced in 31 languages, namely: Afrikaans, Ancient Chinese, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, isiXhosa, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Setswana, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, South African Sign Language, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Yoruba.
The editors indicate the evolving state of e-lit in as “[e]literature authors creatively adopt new technologies whenever available, eluding contemporaneous definitions” which leads to recurrent definitions and redefinitions of elit and its genres. Historically, the genres of elit invariably fall under more than one category. Not surprisingly, the new genres are also associated with old ones. For example, one new genre, NaNoGenMo is linked to generative as the ambient is entwined with locative (Glossary ELC4). Together with a repurposing of older genres, many new ones show up in the ELC4.These are born out of recent collaboration with new technologies and technological apparatuses such as live coding, mixed reality, machine learning, and both audio and visual collage. All these newly archived works expand the electronic literary aesthetic as a result of literature’s continuing engagement with innovative technologies. Consequently, the editors call for a more inclusive definition of elit: one that conveys its “hybrid permanent evolution” (see ABOUT ELC4). The editors also acknowledge the presence of new works that demand an updating of the definition that was presented in the 2019 Call for e-lit Works. Based on the interrelation with technology from conception to reception, the editors endeavor to delineate ways that elit works embody “(1) literary qualities co-produced by human and algorithmic interaction; (2) formal and/or conceptual innovation; (3) a transforming experience for readers through expressive algorithms” (see ABOUT ELC4). Overall, like the earlier e-lit collections, the ELC4 incorporates new forms, changes and widens its fixed definition to include flexible and hybrid literary works that are co-evolving with new technologies.
The interface of ELC4 is quite different from the earlier ones. It is enhanced with many effective components, for example the Filter option interconnects various elements through keywords of genre, platforms authoring language, format and content etc., ELC4 has four sections titled FILTERS, GLOSSARY, INDEX, and ABOUT. The editors prioritised the metadata category in order to increase the accessibility and discoverability through keywords searches. Tens of thousands of pieces of metadata are collected through Google Forms and Sheets, and whiteboard Miro and Twine to construct metadata collection system(see ABOUT ELC4). They are interlinked with each other wherever it matches, for example, the matching keywords of genre, platform and other components. To ensure the perpetual access, the recorded version of each works are also available in the ELC4. The editors also assured readers that [“w]here possible, code and assets are shared so scholars and others can delve into what makes a work run” (see ABOUT ELC4). The other important observation is the way that the titles of the creative works that turn up on the front page are randomized, in order to avoid having the same works pritorised and placed on top. This option augments the visibility of all the works. Additionally, the home page features a creative work every day at the top of the page.
ABOUT The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 4 edited by Kathi Inman Berens, John T. Murray, R. Lyle Skains, Rui Torres, Mia Mia Zamora, 2022, https://collection.eliterature.org/4/about
ABOUT, The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3 edited by Boluk, Stephanie, Leonardo Flores, Jacob Garbe, and Anastasia Salter, 2016, https://collection.eliterature.org/3/about.html
Zuern, John. “Letters That Matter: The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1”, Electronic Book Review, October 9, 2007.
Zuern, John. “Where Are We Now?: Orienteering in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2”, Electronic Book Review, November 9, 2011.