Information Prose :: A Manifesto in 47 Points :: Version 1.0
by Jeremy P. Bushnell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our daily thoughts appear whole only within contexts which run deep and
often go unthought: were anyone to inspect the running ticker of our
mental dialogue, much of it would seem to be fragments. Writing which
purports to be interested in the complexity of other human beings must
27. Incorporating uncited or decontextualized
fragments and samples into a creative work brings a certain level of
noise into the signal. This admittedly runs the risk of creating
confusion in the mind of the audience.
28. The initial
communication of new information always creates some confusion. But
that confusion indicates promise to certain recipients.
There is no evidence that what audiences want most from a creative work
is the clear transmission of simple information. Audiences will accept
high levels of noise in a creative work if the creative work is
achieving other effects or satisfying other needs.
take] the text, with its unreliable transmission of information, to be
a component of a larger system, that of cultural circulation, in which
what seemed like a dysfunction at a first level of communication would
turn out to be a positive element contributing to the complexity of the
larger system." —William Paulson, The Noise of Culture
remove it from a creative context for a moment, consider: one reason
meeting new people is appealing is because they may know things that
you don’t know, or they may understand things in a different way from
you. The process of communicating with someone who thinks differently
from you (because their thoughts are defined by different contexts)
carries with it a necessary degree of noise, but the process of
translating that noise into new meaning can be immensely rewarding,
intellectually, emotionally, and creatively.
32. "[Disorder and
noise] can become information to us, can bring us to more subtle forms
of understanding, because it is the unexpected, the radically different
to which we can respond only because we are already complex beings
capable of yet more complexity." —William Paulson, The Noise of Culture
Experiencing characters in a work of fiction should be rewarding in
that same fashion. Reducing the noise in the signal simplifies out
human difference for the sake of accessibility and creates work that is
pleasant but does not bring us to new understanding.
Information prose writers must write for an audience that finds noise
and its attendant uncertainty stimulating. Much contemporary writing
35. "[Young people] are more tolerant of being
out of control, more tolerant of that exploratory phase where the rules
don’t all make sense and few goals have been clearly defined. The hard
work of tomorrow’s interactive design will be to explore that tolerance
— that suspension of control — in ways that enlighten us." —Steven
36. Currently, the writers doing the most work towards some of information prose’s goals are hypertext writers.
Hypertext writers are not necessarily information prose writers, and
not all information prose writers will seek to be hypertext writers,
but hypertext has merits that should be considered by writers of
38. Some hypertexts consist solely of
navigable webs of interlinked fragments. Some information prose writers
may find this approach fruitful. But hypertextuality need not be
incompatible with more traditional narrative. Utilizing hypertext does
not mean that writers need to relinquish the many obvious merits of a
linear story; the comfort of a prescribed order, of a beginning,
middle, and end.
(to be continued)