Porting E-Poetry: The Case of First Screening
This presentation seeks to examine issues around the practice of porting electronic literature,
particularly E-poetry by examining the case of First Screening by bpNichol, a Canadian poet who
programmed a suite of e-poems in Apple BASIC in 1984. This work was preserved, documented, ported,
curated, and published in Vispo.com in 2007 by a collaborative group of poets and programmers: Jim
Andrews, Geof Huth, Lionel Kearns, Marko Niemi, and Dan Waber. This publication consists of a curated
collection of four different versions of First Screening which I will analyze in my presentation:
1. The original DSK file of the 1984 edition, which can be opened with an Apple IIe emulator, along
with the Apple BASIC source code as a text file, and scanned images of the printed matter
published with the 51/4 inch floppy disks it was distributed in.
2. A video captured documentation of the emulated version in Quicktime format.
3. The 1993 HyperCard version, ported by J. B. Hohm, along with the printed matter of that
I will make the case that these ported versions are ontologically different by performing media-specific
analysis of each text, and critical code readings of their programming and source codes. Through close
readings of the presentation (screen) and logical (source code) layers of each version I can point out
what is gained and what is lost every time this suite of electronic poems is ported. For example, when
the code poem embedded in lines 3900 – 3935 of the original Apple BASIC program is ported into
is generated by different code to be displayed on the screen.