Twitter goes literary with Ulysses performance

Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:09am EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Twitter, the social networking site favored by some celebrities, has gone high-brow with a performance from James Joyce's 1922 novel "Ulysses."

Two "Ulysses" enthusiasts, videogame designer Ian Bogost from the Georgia Institute of Technology and colleague Ian McCarthy, wanted to try to use the site in a culturally interesting way rather than just as a service that let users send 140-character messages, known as tweets.

They came up with idea of recreating a chapter from "Ulysses" on Twitter.

They chose chapter 10, Wandering Rock, which is famous for showing the interlocking events of 19 characters walking through central Dublin doing their daily business.

Bogost and McCarthy registered 54 of the novel's characters as Twitter users and adapted the chapter in a large series of 140-character or less first-person statements, using a specially created software to automate a performance.

On June 16 or "Bloomsday," the day the action in the novel takes place in 1904, these characters all sent tweets about what they were doing at the correct fictional times.

Bogost said the performance went smoothly although a few technical hiccups meant some characters were unable to take part.

"I think the project sheds a new light on Twitter by intermixing usual fare with these century-old characters," said Bogost on his blog www.bogost.com.

"As for long-term literary uses of Twitter, it's certainly a viable and interesting option."

Every year "Bloomsday" is celebrated in Joyce's home country of Ireland and in other English-speaking parts of the world with Joyce fans and scholars often retracing the characters' steps.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)