December 1996

Root Page of Article: Going Into the Woods, by Christine Boese

And Clinton was riding a Wave.

Take a moment and go back with me to the Summer of '92. Michael Joyce, Stuart Moulthrop, Nancy Kaplan, and Jay Bolter were fine tuning approaches to writing in the Hypercard-based Storyspace, theorizing on the Late Age of Print and nonlinear forms of thinking and writing. George Landow and Robert Coover at Brown were trying some interesting experiments, with the Intermedia project for teaching Shakespeare, and the Brown Hypertext Hotel for teaching creative writing. Word on the grapevine now argues that these projects were less than successful, although I haven't really caught wind of that view in the officially sanctioned literature. In truth, we learn from everything, especially our failures.

And that was what the Summer of '92 was for me. A transition year. I had taught for two years with an MFA in creative writing and I knew I would need more time to get a book of poetry published at a reputable small press. The time had come to think about what I would study to get a Ph.D. I was driving cross country, visiting relatives and graduate schools, after teaching the summer session of Arkansas Governor's School.

And I wasn't driving alone. That was the summer of the Clinton-Gore Magic Bus. Talk about learning from your failures. I had lived in Arkansas through the ups and downs of Clinton's political career, which was as varied as the fortunes of the Razorback teams. We knew we were always underdogs, that we had a tendency to choke on the big games or the big elections, yet we always hoped against our luck. So while the state of Arkansas was having a Fleetwood Mac Attack, I accidentally managed to land in the same towns as the Magic Bus three times that summer. I had Clinton-Gore stickers plastered on the camper shell on my Mazda pickup and lived out of that camper that summer. Everywhere I went people waved and honked. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A wave gathering momentum, in spite of odds and ambiguity, ambivalence and strange bedfellows.

Good Lord, I thought, is he really going to do it? I had first met Clinton in 1987, as a photojournalist doing public relations for higher education. Due to the nature of my beat, I knew Clinton supported communications technology. Particularly he was interested in budget items for high-tech incubator centers for Internet-related product development. That knowledge bubbled around in my thoughts all summer as I considered my own future.

They said Clinton couldn't do it. He got on a Wave. He supported computer network technologies.

What other kinds of Waves were we heading for?

Heading Upriver.

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