The Original Digital Humanists

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The Electronic Literature Organization is a Founding Community of Digital Humanists

You may have never heard of the Electronic Literature Organization, or what they do.  But this group of “writers, artists, teachers and developers” has been at the digital art game for way longer than anyone on the Appoet staff.  Originally created to allow people access to digital writing in 1999 the organization has grown into an academy for those interested in the digital humanities.  When they first started out they were based in UCLA, then after 6 years the organization moved to the University of Maryland, and most recently they have made their home at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Electronic Literature Organization as a Resource

eloThe organization does several key things to promote the digital arts.  They, of course, have a directory of work that can be accessed online, though it does not appear to have been updated since 2011.  However, some of the stuff they have in there is really great.  I spent some time browsing through a parody twitter account making fun of Rahm Emanuel and his propensity for foul language, followed by a recreation of images from a movie I have never heard of that I thought was a written piece on computer programming. Then I realized something; no one is using this website.  Or at least they haven’t in some time.  This library of digital literature is the most powerful aspect of the ELO and it is completely dead.  There isn’t even spam.

Now, the organization is not defunct; they have a vibrant presence on social media and an active Facebook group, but this wonderful resource seems untapped by a general audience. They still have speaking tours and events; the most recent was held in Paris in late September. The site appears to be active, with posts from members of the team about once a month. However, I wonder how this community of digital humanists can make their archive of impressive work known to the rest of the Internet. This article, perhaps, can be a refreshing bit of outreach.

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Join the Electronic Literature Organization

The ELO is a great tool, it is free to access and use.  They focus on art distribution and longevity without being overbearing.  They have been supported by some of the best universities in America. With conferences in Paris they certainly have a far reaching influence. Why is no one engaging with this impressive community?  People have become too caught up in sharing on the mainstream networks.  The ELO is, right now, essentially an untapped reserve of appreciative viewers and readers.  In further examination, their online database contains 14 pages of links, and that is it.  “As it pertains to the Electronic Literature Directory, Electronic Literature refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.”  That statement right there covers so much art, so many possibilities to share and experience the work of people who feel just like we do about digital art.  It is here to stay, and it needs to be appreciated.  Take your latest work over to the ELO, make an account and put it out there.

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About The Author

TJ Vanek was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. He currently spends most of his time in Central IL at Illinois State University. When he isn’t in Normal, TJ lives the life of a camp counselor at various camps across America. TJ loves consumer electronics and talking about consumer electronics. He also enjoys Daft Punk, watching his friends play video games, sailing, and campfires. After graduating he really doesn’t know his calling yet, but has big ideas about the future of mobile technology and how it can be used to better humanity rather than consume it.

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