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Espen J. Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. ISBN 0-8018-5578, ISBN 0-8018-5579-9 (alternate, search) paperback (1997)

sample chapter: http://www.hf.uib.no/cybertext/Ergodic.html

(You might want to see CyberText first.)

I read this book a year ago and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the theory of cyber, hyper, non-linear, or new literature. The author makes the point that existing attempts to categorize and understand this emerging form of literature is incomplete, and thus he borrows the term ergodic from physics to describe all these types of literature. Ergodic literature requires the reader to choose her own path through the text. This is different from traditional literature which is linear, and thus the path through the text is trivial because it is chosen by the author. It is even separated from new postmodern structural styles because even then the parts of the text are laid out in a linear relationship to one another.

What's particularly interesting is this book doesn't rely on very contemporary examples, but describes the history of this new perspective on writing, even citing references decades old. Indeed, the book has many good examples that make it an excellent reference book as well.

It's also very easy to read, and covers its topic and its thesis in depth. That makes it an excellent resource that anyone interested in this field should possess. -- SunirShah

Me and a friend were discussing awhile ago how the term "ergodic" seems to be used imprecisely even in technical fields. That really bugs me, because the people misusing it there should know better, and it really confuses newcomers like me to see a technical term be used in two subtly different ways (when there is, in fact, a correct definition that I am supposed to learn eventually). Although not as egregious, I also disagree with this use of the word. I'm all for using mathematical or scientific language for describing all areas of life when the analogy is very close, but in a case like this all it does is take the word away from a possible future more precise usage.

However, that being said, the author did try to use other words but they had already been taken. And he has a good reason for choosing it; he chooses it based upon the meaning of its Greek roots; so in some sense his claim to the word is on par with the scientists'. So I disagree with the use of the word but I see why it was chosen. And the book does looks pretty neat, thanks for pointing it out. -- BayleShanks

I started to read the book, and found it to be very dry. After reading half the introduction, I started skipping and jumping, but did not find any passages of interest. -- AlexSchroeder

Ah, yes, it is an academic literary theory book. It's readable for that audience, but not many others. EspenAarseth? happens to be a leading scholar in the field, and if you're interested in that field, then it's worth reading as a textbook. He's definitely not as readable as say LawrenceLessig, but that kind of popular philosophy is aiming for a different audience entirely. Then again, if your objection isn't merely that lit theory is boring, but Aarseth's writing is boring, that's may be legitimate too, although personally I didn't find it that way. I'm sorry if you bought it because of my review. ;) -- SunirShah

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