The Ed Report
The Ed Report is a hypertextual US government document, describing the covert military exploits of a technical writer named Ed. (The coincidentally-named Ed Commission produced this once top-secret report.) Epic hero Ed leaves off his ordinary life - in which he writes software documentation, takes care of his autistic younger brother, and pursues early Near Eastern scholarship - as he is pressed into service as an Akkadian code-talker during an undercover operation in Colombia.
Of course, The Ed Report is also fiction, constructed collaboratively by Montfort, Gillespie, and Meissner. Written for the Web, it was revealed serially in the summer of 2000. It has also been read (in a press-conference sort of performance that borrowed from oral epic poetry traditions) in New York City, Chicago, and Bergen, Norway. The Ed Report exploits the novelty of the Web by presenting itself, in deadpan fashion, as a genuine text. On the Web, because of the gullibility of readers and the difficulty in verifying textual authenticity, parodies are frequently mistaken for reportage. The Ed Report was inspired, in part, by Orson Welles's radio play based on the H.G. Wells novel "War of the Worlds," which caused panic in America as listeners mistook it for an authentic news broadcast. It would be difficult to play such a splendid prank on the radio today - but the Web is a different story. Another influence was the Starr Report, which may have been, from the standpoint of the United States, the most important Web-original story yet published. (Source: Author's submission statement To trAce Alt-X New Media Competition).