Thursday, September 1

LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY::02-06-2007


from the printed journal: infolit-tathyasahitya // written by soumitra roy // translated by subhashis gangopadhyay )


LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY::02-06-2007

The new millennium - it has brought in a new train of thought and a new-found concept of information literature - infoliterature.
we had stated in our first editorial -

'The ever expanding mental power of the younger generation of the new millennium is in the incessant course of opening new vistas in the field of Bengali literature and in its wake enriching a vast repertory of diverse thought process; increase in interest  towards information technology is escalating usage, the world is steadily
succumbing in to assimilation of information in each stride of life: information is gradually easing the urge to know more.Poetry, too, is undergoing a metamorphosis.Present-day literature that is pointing towards fresher pastures in every move is Information Literature - Infolit - iLiterature - iSahitya.'

Under 'Infotalk' in the same issue of the magazine, we had said - 

'Literature that at the time of creation works towards successful remittance of certain information is Information Literature. In such cases, words r procreated by the momentary sights, sounds or touches that r experienced by the information-seeker.

It is necessary to state that literature can and never have been produced without information of any sort. Even the very fast effort of man had certain information behind it. Information in literature is therefore nothing new. But the info-literature that we are talking about is altogether a diiferent cup of tea. Our effort to highlight the main signs of infoliterature in the first issue of infolit might be misconstrued by some. Hence, it is imparative that we strive to make our point clear in this respect. We are trying to speak of that literature in Infolit that flows from the mainstream of life where information technology has already made deep inroads.

Chatty-poem / cPoem that had already carved a niche of its own in Bengali literature is also an example of info-literature. The use of words or mode of creating such poetry depends primarily on the experience of internet chat or net-chatting. Poetry written in this language is attracting poets and readers alike. The glorious existence of chatty poems in the pages of Bengali magazines and periodicals makes us feel proud and acts as profound encouragement. Others sorts of info-poetry are also being written along with messages, Chat-Lit, Mobile-poetry, DX-poetry, etc. With the expansion of the usage of information technology more and more varieties of infoliterature will be produced and we shall ever remain on the lookout of hitherto undiscovered fields  that such new language create.

We shall discuss one more important aspect in this issue, that of messages, an important form of infoliterature. 

This is for the first time that message is being developed as a unique firm of literature. Use of SMS (Short Message Service) & LMS (Long Message Service) for transmitting poetry or short story over mobile phones have become quite popular now. But not only poems or stories, while using the system of different occasions and for different purposes, it occurred  to us that messaging system is important in its own right and it is this experience that is prompting us to present SMS as a self-contained form of literature.

With advent of telephone many had apprehended the end of writing in the process of communication. Communicating through letters played an important role in development of literature also. But where main aim is to communicate, people tried to grab technology as soon as it entered the reach of the common man. With the mobile technology coming into vogue, people began to use this new form of writing to contact each other through SMS. It is not hand-writing but writing messages in a short form with the use of the keypad of the mobile phone where the typed message reaches the receiver in seconds and a reply can be sent back using the same path in another few seconds. This has ushered in a new age in communication - a new powerful system of communicating has been born which should be awarded its unique place in communication literature that it deserves. 

Let us now delve into the main characteristics of SMS that is making its presence felt in literature.

  1. Communication is possible at such great speed that distance barrier between the communicator and the communicated breaks down instantly.
  2. Communication is curt, simple and devoid of any unneeded flab which makes its penetration more direct and acute.
  3. SMS sounds the end of all grammar. Not syntax, what counts is the power to communicate and only communicate in a meaningful manner. The use of information technology in expression is challenging the basic fabric language and altering it.
  4. With every passage of time newer ways of expressions are making dents into the syntactical composition of the sentence. What is required to be stated is being stated is easy to understand phrases and sentences which allow the communicator to express himself in a way that is free of the shackles of grammar and syntax. However, essentially such composition depends on the assimilation of the habit communicating through SMS on a regular basis. 
  5. In SMS a word can be represented even by a single letter which is now internationally accepted and its widely accepted use in the position of challenging the traditional basic rules of spelling. 
  6. Even digits are replacing words in SMS a vogue that was unthinkable in the pre-IT era.
  7. SMS has given the opportunity to express oneself in short abbreviated words and sentences. This is allowing more room - that of communicating more in less space. SMS has given the scope of total communication in a summarised and precise form.
  8. SMS communication is not mere exchange of mind. It has created the scope of a new sort of word-play through intelligent use of letters, numerals and punctuation marks. Whoever indulges in using SMS as the language of communication, can derive enjoyment out of this game. 
  9. While transmitting message at a quick pace, unwanted characters at times creep in. Such characters, unprovoked and superfluous, often spice up the message adding to it a lighter flavour and thus even a redundant character is not discarded altogether but gets a place of importance in the total message. 
  10. The recognition of SMS  as a new language format is heralding the advent of a new age in literature. All the signs of the dawning in a fresh era are evident in the typed out characters forming the body of SMS.
  11. The variegated SMS is poetic at times and at times simply prosaic. It can even contain mere information if it is so meant to be.     
We are treading through an expectant and evolving time where the milieu is undergoing a very rapid transformation. All the life's demands and necessities are being upgraded every moment. SMS is a part of that shifting world. We have been endeavouring to present SMS as a separate in significant language for literary expression from our initial issue. SMS is the theme of the current issue, too. We have tried establish the potentiality of SMS literature as a separate branch of literature in this issue.
This is the first effort of its type in the field of literature. We shall present SMS in newer forms in the approaching issues. The focal theme of the next issue will be Chatlit. With it we wish to present info-story, info-poetry and other newer aspects of infoliterature.

We thank all those poets and writers who have responded to our request for participating in SMS communication for this issue and wish to thank all who have contributed poems and all who have translated materials for this issue. We are deeply greatful to those elder poets who have lauded our attempt and encouraged us.

Soumitra Roy
1st published on 02-06-2007

Translated from Bengali by Subhashis Gangopadhyay

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