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    martha baer  
martha baer photo   Seeing the Web for the first time inspired me. I'd been on the Net for a while, and I was working at Wired where we were immersed in the project of understanding electronic media, and then I saw the Web through a Mosaic browser with that old air-force gray background color, and I right away wondered what the new publishing medium might do to fiction. People were imagining email novels and hypertext multi-narrative forms, and I got interested in the possibility of a revival of the serial. It was the thought of experimenting with writing in installments that would be fed out at controlled intervals that inspired the book.  
One of the alluring things about the Internet, at least about email and chat, is anonymity. Anonymity is a very, very sexy thing. Of course to me, all writing, being somewhat anonymous, is pretty sexy. Making things up, being in control of all of nature and yet simulateously being susceptible to what you create, pretending to be someone else, using the voice of a narrator--it all feels somehow erotic and transgressive to me.   martha baer photo
martha baer photo   I consider As Francesca to be a kind of second wave Net novel. In the first round, the whole point was the Net itself, the Net as a phenomenon was the core of the book. That didn't interest me. As far as I'm concerned the gadgetry gets banal pretty quickly after you've begun using it.

What As Francesca does is take the Internet and all kinds of workplace technology for granted, move it out of the way and get on with the story.

An analogy is the treatment of gayness in popular culture. First you had this slew of persecution stories like The Children's Hour which were all about gayness--Philadelphia, Making Love (oh boy, there were some real winners)--but later you just get gay characters integrated into the story--Melrose Place, etc. Eventually you have a gay character who's integrated into the story and actually does things besides just be gay.

That's what I wanted As Francesca to do with the technology.
I think the Net will be more and more integrated into our work and leisure lives. It will function more like television, though it'll maintain many of the qualities of a tool. The Web specifically will be useful for very discrete things--research and shopping, whatever you can use deep databases for--but it will not, in my view, deliver news or entertainment. The Net on the other hand--through the development of different technologies--will deliver timely information in a kind of fully mobile, ambient and accessible format packed full of advertising. As for chat spaces like the one in As Francesca, I think they'll develop further. They'll be used by a much broader demographic than the young and horny types out there now. And as for email--well, I'm one of those people who thinks email is "the killer app" of the Net--it'll be around forever, and I'll bet it'll hardly change.   martha baer photo  
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Copyright © 1997 Martha Baer.