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ABC.HTM was first published as Mansfield, C. (2006) ‘ABC.HTM – l’écriture numérique’ in DalMolin, Eliane & Murphy, Carole (eds) Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites, Volume 10 Issue 10.3 Verbal, Visual, Virtual, London & New York, Routledge. pp.267-274, ISSN 1740-9292. Sites was an exciting new journal in cultural studies that played on the words for website and place. The piece of digital writing was conceived to use HTML markup to manage the screen real-estate with space and colour without graphics like jpegs, so that rather like an oulipo poem it was complete within itself and its own rules. HTML had been around since 1993 and I had started working with it in the summer of 1995 writing courses in Cyberculture at the University of Sunderland. In one of the online web dev courses I wrote I remember thinking that HTML and Tables let web designers map out screens like magazine pages to place smaller sections of content across the full width of the screen. We did not have iPhones then, nor did I know about CSS until much later.

The content for ABC.HTM came a little later when I was attending a course in German at the Goethe Institute in Dresden, you can see the date after the first of the lexia in the travel writing, ABC.HTM. Europe was in transition to an enlarged EU and its single currency, and I was in transition into the travel industry to use HTML and JavaScript for eMarketing, and then in eCommerce, which was becoming a reality for airline tickets in 1999. My inspirations for the single web-page of a travel journal were Barthes’ autobiography and Leslie Kaplan’s 1982 poem L’excès-l’usine which has the recurring line ‘on est dedans‘, we are inside. Like all good travel writing I wanted to show movement, and so came up with the idea that the right-most column could be the lift shaft, the square boxes are the lift car and the scrolling of the web-page would simulate the lift going down to the destination of the ground floor, but we were inside. Jennifer Pap discusses Kaplan’s poem in the same journal a few years later, please see https://doi.org/10.1080/17409292.2015.1092240

I have tried embedding the html for ABC.HTM here into WordPress and it nearly works twenty years later but to give it its own box, here it is in isolation in a web-page of its own at abc.htm https://eserve.org.uk/abc.htm