After experiencing digital literature for the first time, I learned that reading evolves just like the tech it exists in. These Waves of Girls is a digital novella by Caitlin Fisher. In an array of different stories and visuals, I was tested. I did not know I was being tested (and later come to find out that I failed) but what I learned was so much more valuable.
As a child, I learned to read linearly. Reading from left to right, from beginning to end. There is a plot, characters, a climax, a resolution. This is how print books are read. We can read them nonlinearly but we would lose the meaning of the story. When I read These Waves of Girls my first time, I read it linearly. I robotically went down the list, occasionally clicked on the hyperlinks, and even skimmed some places that looked familiar. I am like many who choose to say they comprehend what they read after reading something only once. I was not ready for something that was written to be reread, that is organized yet disorganized, that is nonlinear.
How can we read These Waves of Girls?
The first thing to note about this digital media is that it can be listened to while reading, just listened to, or just read. It does not have to follow a uniform structure. It even promotes a more sporadic structure of reading. When you read one of the story threads, read it scrutinously. There are endless amounts of hyperlinks and you should follow those and the path it takes you on. This also means that you may have to reread a section but what will follow is connections made between then and what you just learned. We have to actively read to create our own narrative of the threads. There is no linear meaning behind these threads and it is our jobs to read nonlinearly in efforts to make them linear for ourselves. But, this also means that other people could have slightly opposing narratives based on what they read and what hyperlinks they did or didn’t click.