David Hudson on Tue, 18 Mar 1997 21:36:00 +0100 (MET)

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nettime: "Noise"

[An especially nice twist on this is that Michael's "Stating the Obvious"
is usually a very cleanly designed page that appears weekly, written in a
personable yet professional voice. This week, the following appears in
standard, press release courier font. Another note: He's right; "Noise" is
a swift, pleasurable ride...dwh]

Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 15:19:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Michael Sippey <michael@theobvious.com>
To: retro-push@theobvious.com
Subject: RETRO-PUSH:  White Noise on White Noise

r e t r o - p u s h
   the email version of stating the obvious
   for the week of march 17, 1997




(OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - March 17, 1997)  Stating the Obvious is pleased to
announce a new website which brings fragments of Don DeLillo's seminal
novel "White Noise" to the web.  The site, titled "White Noise on White
Noise," is a random walk through DeLillo's text, hand-annotated with
hypertext links to the WWW.  "White Noise on White Noise" can be found on
the web at <http://www.theobvious.com/noise/>.

"Noise," as the site's creator Michael Sippey affectionately refers to
it, is a collection of 36 randomly selected, small fragments of text from
DeLillo's novel.  The fragments range from 1 to 10 lines in length, and
appear in page number order.  Reading the site provides an experience
akin to quickly browsing through the novel in a bookstore.  The entire
site can be experienced in 15 minutes, leaving the reader with merely an
impression of the novel's power and relevance to late 20th-century
American life.

The identifying elements of each fragment -- the page number, the
beginning line number, and the number of lines to quote --- were picked
using Microsoft Excel's RANDBETWEEN function.  Certain words in the text
of each fragment have been hand-annotated with links to the World Wide
Web, each destination URL chosen by Sippey to have relevance to the
selected fragment.  In most cases, these links need not be followed; the
reader can merely pass their mouse pointer over the link to experience
the appropriate cultural response.

"By using Excel's random number generator, I was able to remove myself
from the process of selecting appropriate fragments of text.  The machine
became the author of the site," according to Sippey.  This is contrasted,
however, with the hypertext links personally chosen by Sippey.  "For me,
reading the novel 'White Noise' is a hypertext experience to begin with.
Building 'White Noise on White Noise' was a way to make those
associations explicit."

The site goes live at a time when the popular press is awash with
references to DeLillo's upcoming novel, "Underworld," scheduled for
release in Fall 1997.  "With 'Noise,' I hope to introduce the
above-average Internet reader to DeLillo's work, well in advance of the
release of 'Underworld'," says Sippey.  "Furthermore, I hope the site
encourages readers to purchase 'White Noise' and read the novel in its

During production of the site, which lasted more than four months, Sippey
was faced with issues related to copyright and fair use.  "I believe that
'Noise' is covered under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act.  It
passes the four factors test with flying colors, being a work of comment
and criticism that quotes only a small portion of DeLillo's novel."

Sippey, however, is well aware of the trials and tribulations faced by
Luke Seeman, the producer of The Holden Server, which provided randomly
generated selections from J.D. Salinger's novel, "Catcher in the Rye."
Seeman shut down The Holden Server after receiving cease-and-desist
correspondence from Salinger's literary agency, Harold Ober and
Associates.  "I sincerely hope that 'Noise' isn't attacked the way The
Holden Server was," says Sippey.  "For me, 'White Noise' is fundamentally
about the role that technology plays in our culture.  I would hope that
Mr. DeLillo and his representatives respect the way that I've used
technology to give the Internet community a new way of experiencing just
a small portion of his work."

"White Noise on White Noise" is the latest addition to the "Other"
section of Stating the Obvious.  Previous "Other" projects include The
Network Diagram <http://www.theobvious.com/network/>, a guide to incest
in the web publishing industry, and Suck Harder
<http://www.theobvious.com/harder/>, the officially licensed home for
castoffs from the daily webzine Suck.  Stating the Obvious
<http://www.theobvious.com/> is a site which provides weekly commentary
on Internet technology, business and culture.  It's been run by Sippey
since August of 1995.

For more information on "White Noise on White Noise," or Stating the
Obvious, contact Michael Sippey <michael@theobvious.com>.


a n n o u n c e m e n t s

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h e l p / a b o u t

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David Hudson                    REWIRED <www.rewired.com>
dwh@berlin.snafu.de             Journal of a Strained Net


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