The Stolen Time Archive

John David Zuern's long-winded appreciation of the uniqueness of the electronic literature My Name is Captain, Captain seems to mirror the intentions behind Vectors magazine's Stolen Time Archive. Zuern notes that "Captain, Captain exhibits many of the characteristics that most distinguish the computer screen from other textual interfaces" (265), noting its use of animated textual elements that evoke Jerome McGann's concept of critical deformation that reveals the expansive content of a textual object (which, McGann argues, are inherently "n-dimensional"). Captain, Captain "requires the reader to follow links to explore the text and make meaningful connections... In Wardrip-Fruin's (2005) terms, it is an 'instrumental text' that 'packages together logics of graphical play and methods of response with textual and graphic material'"( 265). Zuern notes that "the poem presents itself to me precisely as an exercise" (266). 

Similarly, the Stolen Time Archive is a collection of material culture as well as an insistently experiential and explorative piece that responds to a form of patient play. In her author's statement, Alice Gambrell notes that the archive houses both didactic texts (like workers' handbooks) and more resistant texts (i.e., cut and pasted magazines made by the workers themselves), and that "since elements in the first category provide much of the subject matter and motivation for elements in the second, the relationship between the two turns out to be intimate and combative in equal measures." The process of unearthing the texts and their relationships involves "[participating] in a series of uncanny improvisations" and users are ultimately challenged to contemplate "the futility of efforts to draw clear distinctions between so-called 'creative/intellectual' and 'technical' contributions to the making of any text." This not only demonstrates the polyvalent possibilities of an online interactive text (which Zuern predicts and appreciates) but also recalls McGann's image of necessary collaboration between analog and digital humanities studies, and his insistence that while "we thrive in a world of analogues and fuzzy logic, computers exploit a different type of precision. How to engage a fruitful intercourse between these two forms of thinking defines the very heart of humanities computing" (189).