With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

In Jay David Bolter’s “Seeing and Writing” he makes the point that the electronic page does not create a reading experience like that of the printed page. Kerry Lawrynovicz’s “Girls’ Day Out” captures the unique ability of electronic literature to create an experience for the reader that could not have been replicated in the same manner by a printed page. The white words on a black background help lead the reader to the terrifying truth that is in direct contrast with the seemingly extremely harmless story about two sisters riding horses over a vast natural landscape.

Bolter mentions the importance of how a page is framed and the space that is left unfilled on a written page and how that space has played a role in a reader’s understanding through history. Lawrynovicz utilizes the negative space, that is not only space absent of words, but also space that is black and not white (or some similar white-like color) as is traditional on the printed page, to make the reader feel the emptiness of the lost lives of these innocent murdered young girls. Additionally, Lawrynovicz uses the overlay of the innocent storyline of her and her sister riding horses to contrast the underlying sinister story that her and her sister knew nothing about but could easily have been victims themselves. The first story fades and select words are left behind to reveal to the reader that there is another layer to this narrative. To achieve this using a printed page would be challenging. The colors alone would seem strange on a printed page. On a computer screen it is less noticeable until the animation progresses and the lone few words are left on the screen and that is when the reader really takes notice of the black and associates it with thoughts of death and evil.

Bolter says “The electronic author who chooses to animate must bear greater responsibility for the reader’s temporal experience, because he or she can regulate the flow of text and images on the screen.” By this he means that the electronic author loses the advantage that the print author has which is the room for the reader to make their own interpretation. The electronic author who animates is able to direct the reader’s thoughts more precisely, but if their goal is not achieved or falls flat or if the reader doesn’t get it, the electronic author is more to blame than the print author because they bore the responsibility of creating a more directed understanding within the reader.