Does cyberlit turn writers into programmers?

Technology drives cyberlit. That is a given.
But, by its very nature, technology is always changing . And while new technology is the force which drives cyberliterature, it can also be its Achilles heel. Writing is an extremely cheap art-form to practice, the basic requirements being pen and paper. What, though, are the basic requirements for cyberliterature? A computer with an internet connection, special software, a website with domain-name registration, an understanding of website design, and HTML or XHTML, at the very least, perhaps a digital camera as well as an image-processing package, and often much more. "Authors of hyperliterature don't have to be computer programmers," states Edward Picot in his Slope essay, Hyperliterature: Apotheosis of Self-Publishing?, "but they certainly do have to know a good deal more than how to set pen to paper."
Cyberwriters, like all writers, face the challenge of making the words do what they envisage, but they also face the challenge of its technology. In other words, the hypermedia poet or fiction writer who's also his/her own designer faces double-duty. "I don't want to exaggerate this aspect of hyperliterature, because it is my personal belief that original and exciting work can still be produced using nothing more than HTML," continues Picot, "but equally it must be admitted that some of the most striking recent works in the field must have taken a lot of technical know-how to produce."
A cyberwriter walks a fine line between "the desire for impressive graphic effects and the need to keep download times to a minimum to preserve reader engagement," states Carrie McMillan in her article Hypertext HyperHype. "There is a real danger that writers of hyperliterature may begin to concentrate on the hyper at the expense of the literature," she adds. "They may become so involved with the technology that they become uninteresting as writers, or they may allow a desire to enthrall and astonish their audience to get the better of their concern to say anything original and deeply-felt." (…)

It may simply be the case that the technology involved in hyperliterature will become too complicated for individual writers to cope with, with the result that the hypertexts of the future will be team efforts rather than individual ones—either teams of writers working together, or individual writers working with technical experts.
The skills "required to produce exciting work that might gain a large audience on the net may become unreachable to all but the lucky or technically dedicated," predicts Digital Fiction's Andy Campbell , and even those who might want to do it all, may not be able to. "Collaborations between graphic designers, programmers and writers are already spreading; although there are overlaps, everyone is being strictly pushed back to their own specialty." In fact, current literary e-journals exist that invite collaborative submissions, celebrating cross-genre works. Of course, any collaboration is not without its own danger. If the hypertexts of the future can only be produced by teams of people, worries McMillan, they may become almost impossible to bring out on an independent and self-financed basis.

Is this the end of hypertext's golden era or just the beginning? Keeping it simple or hazarding the complexities of collaboration—which will it be? The answer may be "both." Future cyberwriters will become not programmers but designers of their own visions either by reveling in simplicity or the experimentation complexities of collaboration, embracing future technology as a new century's tools for creative expression.

Marshall McLuhan believed that content follows form, calling media "the extensions of man." That certainly seems true with writing in cyberspace. The "insurgent" technologies will "give rise to new structures of feeling and thought, new manners of perception."

And those new perceptions must, naturally, take into account the "other" language, the language of the computer that allows a writer's vision to come to cyber-life. In considering his experimentations with a new software—the "'neath text," as he calls it—cyberpoet Jim Andrews offers philosophical thoughts about the uneasy relationship between the very human feeling of poetry, the ghostly creative muse, and the mechanical feeling of creating poetry via computer: It is apparently ironic that we use machines to convey our humanity, but the irony is only apparent when we acknowledge the ghost in the machine and acknowledge also that we made the machine for the ghost to travel in...The "'neath text" is to some forbiddingly technical and automated. Yet the ghostie may appreciate it, the ghostie neath and above and around the "neath text".