Welcome to a new column about online literature.
The moniker DigitaLit, more than a sum of its parts, means fiction and poetry on a screen rather than a page, of course, but beyond that, the digital medium is changing the nature of the work itself. And those changes will be my theme.
Whether you prefer to pick up The Inquirer from your doorstep or read it on the screen, check back here every other Sunday, where we'll be looking at the state of online literature - the good, the browser-crashing, and the excitingly futuristic.
Here are a few examples:
A blogger links to audio files of poetry readings, reviewing them as though they were pop singles.
Writers of interactive fiction invite readers to participate in their work, which is part innovative literature, part game.
Novelists e-mail their stories out, one chapter at a time, enhancing them with images and links - bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional publishing by communicating directly with readers.
Case in point: L. Lee Lowe, an American-born fiction writer who lives in Germany. Since July, Lowe has been publishing her young-adult novel Mortal Ghost in weekly installments on her blog. After all the chapters have been posted, the novel will be available for free download as a PDF.
"What distinguishes the online medium for me," said Lowe - in, appropriately enough, an e-mail interview - "is the immediate feedback from readers, and the sense of kinship between reader and writer which can develop."
Her novel - now in its 26th of about 40 chapters that Lowe has written already but revises extensively each week - is an action-driven fantasy about a 16-year-old boy who has magic abilities. Because it lives on a blog, the story gets critical commentary from readers before it is finished. And because it's not fixed in print, it never really has to be finished.
"As an inveterate fiddler," Lowe wrote, "I also appreciate the chance to edit as much as I like, for as long as I like."
True, Lowe is publishing a good old-fashioned serial, a format popular in newspapers years ago (and in some cases popular still; international best-selling novelist Alexander McCall Smith first published several of his books as installments in the Scottish newspaper the Scotsman).
But the digital medium offers opportunities that print doesn't. Because of the popularity of audio books, Lowe commissioned Bill Uden, a performing-arts student at Carmarthenshire College in Wales, to record readings from her book in his college's studio. Lowe, who found Uden through a "blogging friend," began releasing the podcasts along with her regular posts this month.
And like many writers who publish their work online, Lowe isn't just angling for a book contract.
"It would be disingenuous for me to say I don't want to be read, so I'd be perfectly amenable to paper and ink, though I'd be adamant about releasing my work online at the same time," Lowe wrote. "At the center of my work is a strong conviction in open culture, freely available to all.
"However," she added, "I doubt that print is doomed. At least for a good long while, both paper and bits can happily coexist, possibly for different purposes. There's no need to take an either/or stance."
Even old-media loyalists are advised to take note. As Lowe puts it, "Fiction writers who ignore how science and technology impact on culture, on the texture of our lives, do so at their own risk."