The trAce Online Writing Centre
From 1995-2005 the trAce Online Writing Centre hosted a unique international community where, using the internet as both medium and raw material, trAce contributors generated an unequalled body of innovative creative work. This open and generous group of people supported and influenced the development of new media writing worldwide and promoted lively debate about the impact of the World Wide Web on the future of text and literature.
The trAce website evolved its own distinctive artistic ecology and the resulting complex interlinkings permeate this highly enjoyable archive of writing and making by numerous writers and artists. Like the original website itself, this archive will be of interest to many different kinds of visitors, including practitioners, researchers, teachers and general audiences.
The trAce Archive was produced as part of Writers for the Future, generously commissioned by NESTA,The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. It is a collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and De Montfort University.
Scope of the archive
This archive contains all the major works of new media writing commissioned by trAce between 1995-2005, including The Noon Quilt, Home, and Migrating Memories. It also houses frAme, trAce’s Journal of Culture and Technology, featuring many well-known names in new media writing including early works by Mark Amerika, M.D.Coverley, Matthew Fuller, Geert Lovink, Talan Memmott, Mez, Melinda Rackham, and Francesca da Rimini; and Assemblage, Carolyn Guertin’s showcase of new media writing by women (1999-2005). You will find archives of the three Incubation conferences (2000, 2002, 2004) and works by Writers-in-Residence Bernard Cohen, Alan McDonald, Kate Pullinger, Christy Sheffield Sanford, Alan Sondheim, and Tim Wright. Some artists, including Randy Adams and Catherine Byron, developed online Studios accompanied by Writers’ Journals which make fascinating reading. There are research projects including the AHRB-funded Mapping the Transition from Page to Screen, and reports from several user surveys, plus over 60 critical articles published between 2002-5. There are also many minor works whose inception and development were supported by trAce during numerous training programmes. It is impossible to include every archived page here but an indicative list of works archived by this project can be found in Contents.
It is worth noting that over ten years the trAce server evolved into something of an organic entity itself, and in that respect the content of the archive can sometimes be uneven. The site housed many experiments created by many people, and as a result some pages work and/or remain viewable in recent browsers, whilst others don’t. We have archived all complete pieces but not earlier drafts of those pages, and since much of the work at trAce was innovative and often produced as part of a learning process, you will still find page errors, dead links, missing images etc. We have left these anomalies to stand since they are an integral part of this enormous experimental sketch-book of a website.
The archive also contains transcripts of chat
and MOO meetings, but constraints of time and personnel have
made it impossible to archive entire message-boards and email
discussion lists. These have always been an important feature of
trAce, especially the O’Reilly WebBoard, which hosted many
lively conversations and examples of work-in-progress. However,
although it was closed for technical reasons in 2002, the
WebBoard remains on a server at Nottingham Trent University and
private access can be arranged for researchers. The trAce forums
are archived at http://tracearchive.ntu.ac.uk/forums/.
The trAce Archive does not include the trAce Online Writing
School (2002-2005) since its contents were private to the
tutors and students, nor does it include
the Net because although it shares server space with trAce
it has a different audience and remit.
Opportunities for further research
We warmly encourage and support future research into the history and influence of trAce. The XML format is open to future development, and there are many other opportunities for study but please note especially the following areas which we were not able to cover due to finite resources:
To our regret, we did not have the time or personnel to provide long descriptions of the works and projects, but we would like to recommend this as an important area of enquiry because changes in platforms and operating systems may soon mean that some of the works can no longer be properly viewed or understood. We created a field in the XML for long descriptions but did not have the resources to enter any data.
We know that the trAce site is used intensively and at many
levels by teachers around the world but since the project has
been largely funded by arts grants rather than academia we have
addressed the issue of pedagogy only very infrequently. We
created a field in the XML for pedagogical applications but did
not have the resources to enter any data.
This archive website features only digital content. There is also an extensive collection of print and other offline media which is held at Nottingham Trent University and has yet to be catalogued. See Other Media for details.
This archive was built using the Microsoft Indexing Service and XML iFilter (quilogic.com) running on Windows 2003 Server.