Lessons in Netprov: Collaborative Writing in the Digital Age

Netprov (networked improvisation narrative) is a new creative writing form created by Rob Wittig and Mark C. Marino. To introduce this form, Wittig and Marino, along with Samara Hayley Steele, will share some of the early netprovs (#1wknotech, Air-B-N-Me, Monstrous Weather, Occupy MLA, Spedishow), and introduce their forthcoming work: Thermophiles in Love (TiL). TiL imagines a dating service for a five-gendered micro-organism class (thermophiles) on which they seek out their perfect quadruple. The netprov explores issues of gender performance and fluidity and online romance in the contemporary moment through a microscopic lens. TiL will be a featured part of this year’s conference of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts in Atlanta, GA but open to all.

Rob Wittig’s background combines Literature, Graphic Design and Digital Culture. In the early 1980s he co-founded the legendary IN.S.OMNIA electronic bulletin board with the Surrealist-style literary and art group Invisible Seattle. IN.S.OMNIA was one of the earliest online art projects of the digital age. In 1989 he received a Fulbright grant to study the writing and graphic design of electronic literature with French philosopher Jacques Derrida in Paris. Rob’s book based on that work, titled “Invisible Rendezvous,” was published in 1995. Alongside his creative projects, Rob worked for 15 years as a writer, designer and creative director in major publishing and graphic design firms in Chicago. In 2008 Rob’s web project “Fall of the Site of Marsha” was among the first works of electronic literature to be archived in the Library of Congress. He is currently developing high-design, collaborative fiction projects in a form called netprov, networked improv narrative. In 2011 he earned an M.A. in Digital Culture from the University in Bergen, Norway (equivalent to an American M.F.A.) Rob teaches in the Departments of Art and Design and Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Mark C. Marino is an author and scholar of digital literature. His works include “Marginalia in the Library of Babel,” “a show of hands,” “Living Will,” and a collection of interactive children’s stories called “Mrs. Wobbles and the Tangerine House.” He is an Associate Professor (Teaching) of Writing at the University of Southern California where he directs the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab, a research group dedicated to humanities approaches to the exploration of computer source code. He is also the Director of Communication of the Electronic Literature Organization.

Samara Hayley Steele holds an MFA in writing from Portland State University and is an affiliate of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab at USC. In addition to her work in critical code studies, Steele is a theorist and practitioner of Live Action Role Play, with her work focused on an intersection between gaming, political economy, and subjectivity.

Organized by Digital Humanities @ Berkeley, the Literature and Digital Humanities Townsend Working Group, and the Berkeley Center for New Media.