The Long String
Adaptation Theory for a Digital World
I was recently challenged by the adaptation project I encountered in my #Lit306e course which tasked me with reinterpreting a borrowed work through a digital medium. While I pondered over the possibilities, other threads from other spools wound their way into my thinking. I was worried mostly about the line between adaptation and copyright infringement. For safe measure I selected a work which would certainly fall under public domain, having been originally written circa 1265. I’m excited to be releasing the first e-book on my site and, because I relished the process, there will be more to come.
I’m beginning to understand how copyright laws work and how this capatalistic trend, while protecting the ownership of material, also marginalize the dissemination of said material, effecting the very programming of digital hardware. E-books, unlike their tangible paper counterparts, can’t be easily shared or traded, for the most part the information lies stagnant after we’re done reading through it, and there it sits on our digital bookshelves collecting digital e-dust, or archived in ‘the cloud’ for later reference. Amazon and Apple have designed their products, and publishers have tethered their e-books with share-protected encryptions to limit “unauthorized replication” and protect the authors’ rights. While I’m all for the author and associates making a profit on their work, I feel that in the digital realm they are doing the consumer a disservice by interfering with the interface of our products. In essence, when we purchase any media digitally we are only leasing our private accessibility to this product, unlike a book whose ownership of said product is not contested in any way. I may do anything with a book that I like, deconstruct it in an eccentric way. or tear off the cover if I don’t agree with it, and have on multiple occassions. The ability to finish a book and eagerly press it into the hands of someone I know can get something out of it is one of the most sacred foundations of literary appreciation. I hesitate to amass a large digital library which I’ve paid any money for, because I feel these books are hidden away on a device that only I use. Having a private library only I can access has its advantages I’ll admit, however it remains that literature was meant to be shared, and the enlightenment of the world depends on its unhampered accessibility.
To address this concern in the context of my adaptation project, I wanted to experiment with crafting an e-book and test its share-ability. My ‘adaptation’ is not a reinterpretation, but a sewing together of themes I encountered in Rumi’s poetry. I specifically wanted to hand-write this project to illuminate the words in a 21st-century style. I also wanted to experiment with the rarity of hand-written media in a digital age. Using the iPad applications INKredible and Notes Plus, I was able to render my handwriting directly onto the screen, transcribe Rumi’s lines, and instantly publish the file as a free .pdf. Replication is as easy as sharing the link and downloading a copy to your computer or device. It is incredibly simple to access the poems in iBooks or a Kindle reader. It amazes me that technology has allowed me to publish and disseminate what I write in my own hand… which give a visual voice to words and believe it opens to the doors to allowing writers to share their hand-written work through a digital and instant;y-accessible medium – something printing presses are not even capable of rendering. My final consideration was the ease of turning this .pdf into a physical object. While it’s possible for anyone to print this out, I also encountered a few online services which could professionally print and bind this as a mini-book for about $15. I’ve yet to order a copy, however I’m excited at the implications for future ‘real’ e-book projects.