Bill Marsh's hypertext work Tools Built by Anonymous Authors combines images, text and sounds into an interactive work of art that engages the reader in a way not possible in other mediums. The closed source mode limits the reader to the poems written by Marsh and the images he associates with them. But in the open source mode, the reader can also listen to the sounds compiled by Marsh and interact with the text by controlling how the text is presented.

Marsh explains that the poems were written in the months before the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. The poems focus on themes dealing with war, such as sacrifice, weapons and conflict, but the five poems seem unrelated when viewed in the closed source mode. When viewed in the open source mode, though, Marsh adds a layer of interactivity allowing him to stress certain words and ideas. Two of the poems are accompanied by music in the open source mode, allowing Marsh to better affect the mood of the reader. In the Progress section, Marsh utilizes the interactivity to highlight certain important words in his poem.

Technology's exponential progress estranges the fact in recovered artifacts. We return to typologies, types of media weapons provoke: on the head of this dragon how remarkable: the efforts of dead bodies. A system connection enhances tapping, death tools, land jobs of nomadic hunters. Our ancestor's warhead can appear anytime through anonymous priests ancient infantry armed with modern war. Buttressed in this monument holding a large flower watch: a chimpanzee breaks a walnut.

The poem is very chaotic, with conflict a recurring theme. However, by allowing the reader to interact with the piece in the open source mode Marsh isolates important ideas, such as progress, nomadic and anonymous among others. This type of interactivity adds meaning to a confusing piece.


1. How would you classify Marsh's creation? As a work of art or literature or something completely new? Does it matter how this work is viewed?

2. The pictures Marsh chose to include in his work resemble artifacts or primitive tools of some type. Do these images enhance his message? The picture accompanying the poem titled Fire has very little to do with fire or the poem itself. Would a different picture help convey Marsh's message?

3. Marsh employs a type of interactivity that doesn't involve switching pages in order to activate the enhancements. To see what special effects he has added to his poetry, the reader simply clicks a button on the same screen the poem is located and never has to navigate away from the original screen. Is this technique more effective than Moulthrop's technique of linking to different pages in Hegirascope?

4. Is this type of interactive project an effective way to send a message?

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Last modified 3 February 2008