My experimentation with travel writing styles and layouts dates from the turn of the century. I was in Dresden on a German language course at the Goethe Institute. It was the end of August 1999, talk in Germany was full of the process to welcome Poland into the EU. I had taken a huge step in my career and was going to spend five years in industry, leading a web development team for British Airways in Europe. I had been teaching European Cyberculture at Sunderland University so my mind was full of HTML and how it could make writing more visual without using photographs. HTML sounds so artisan now in 2016.
My piece of writing from Dresden, called ABC.HTM, celebrates its influences and roots: Roland Barthes’ autobiography written in alphabetical order, the tradition of French song taken up by rappers, and most of all the conceit and wit of a travel piece where the journey is unexpectedly short. Remember, we looked at that in the previous post on Annie Ernaux? In the case of ABC.HTM this surprise journey is a lift ride down from an upstairs apartment to the ground floor. I meticulously hand-coded the HTML to reflect this in the margin as you scroll down the web-page. Guest editors of the journal, Sites, enjoyed ABC.HTM so much they reproduced it on the front cover of a special edition dedicated to the verbal, visual and virtual a few years later.
In the next post, I wrestle with the WordPress interface to make it reproduce the old-fashioned HTML of that travel writing coded-up at the turn of millennium… ABC.HTM
Mansfield, C. (2006) ‘ABC.HTM – l’écriture numérique’ in DalMolin, Eliane & Murphy, Carole (eds) Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites, 10(3), Verbal, Visual, Virtual, London & New York, Routledge. pp.267-274, ISSN 1740-9292