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Richard E. Joines

CYBERPOETRY Cyberpoetry is one of the many terms used to refer to relationships between poetry and technologies, particularly computer technologies. The prefix cyber was derived from the scientist Norbert Weiner's 1947 coinage cybernetics, from the Greek for "one who steers." Cyberpoetry is concerned with machine control of the writing process, delivery of poetry in more than one medium, and machine-mediated interactivity between audience and reader or writer and text. Most cyberpoetry is art or institutional poetry and is presented on the Internet or available on storage media such as CD-ROMs. However, most poetry on the Internet is not cyberpoetry. Few poems on the Web embrace new media in ways important to their form, content, or interpretation, as cyberpoetry does.

There are different types of cyberpoetry. These types may be defined by the techniques or processes according to which they are written and by the way they are historically related. One type is procedural poetry. Early procedural writing practices, such as those of surrealism, preceded the advent of popular computing but anticipated many of the means of making cyberpoetry. For example, a surrealist poem might have involved choosing words written on pieces of paper drawn from a hat, while a cyberpoem might involve randomizing or sorting words using a computer program. A second type of cyberpoetry is multimedia poery. Concrete poetry, which uses the graphic possibilities of the page (see visual poetry), and sound poetry, which uses language as it is pronounced, can be "put in motion" by multimedia poetry. A third type is hypertext poetry, which links objects in a poem in a variety of ways. Early hypertext poems and early computing philosophies define many of the concepts cyberpoetry embodies today. Machine languages and English continue to evolve, and cyberpoetry evolves along with them.

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