Since blogging is an inherently hypertextual and intertextual thing to do, it would be highly improper to start without first giving a nod to Laurence Sterne.

[Nods.]

Other commentators with a keen eye on the intersection of literature, technology, and rhetoric have undoubtedly made this observation with more eloquence and crisper citations, but let’s plunge ahead anyway: Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is widely recognized as the first postmodern novel and an important progenitor of hypertext. The novel famously meanders all over the place; throws in allusions, obscure references, and inside jokes by the dozen; bends or breaks nearly every known literary convention; includes extra-narrative scraps of essays and sermons just to spice things up with digressive flavor; experiments with typographical elements, including the famous black page; and generally tries the patience of the conventional reader.

Scholars have enthusiastically explored the notion of Tristram Shandy as a three-dimensional novel. Many contemporary novelists, most significantly Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace, have been influenced by Sterne. In fact, DFW* has taken the hypertextual bull by the proverbial horns and made a high art of footnoting. Or, more accurately, an extreme sport. At any rate, it’s a short Shandean leap from self-referential literary joking and abstruse footnotes to the interlinked read/write conversations and pinging trackbacks of the blogosphere. And more to the point, it’s a short leap to a particular blog like this one. 

In Tristram Shandy, Tristram narrates the story of his own life, starting with the events leading up to his birth. The narrative zig-zags along by what Sterne calls "progressive digressions," and it’s not until the novel’s third volume that Tristram is finally born—this is not an urgent story. My purpose here is similar, at least for the short duration of this post: to inaugurate and introduce Higher Edison as a new entity in the world of social digital media, lay out a non-urgent Shandean timeline for finding a voice for this blog, throw around a few gratuitous pomo lit references, and rashly promise spills, chills, and great dramatic turns.

Welcome to Higher Edison, a blog exploring issues, opinions, and bright ideas about education and technology.

*Dude Footnotes Wildy

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