Why the Internet is great for literature ★

In the newest DIAGRAM (11.5), Eric LeMay’s nonfiction piece, “Losing the Lottery,” is presented in Flash. You click six lottery numbers, and while you read through each of the forty-nine sections, you’re also playing a simulation of the lottery with your numbers, at a rate of $100 a second. It’s a clever and powerful construction, and also incredibly hypnotic—I was unable to stop staring at the screen as I plowed through thousands of dollars. I wondered if the code was really random, if I might strike the six-match jackpot early. I had nothing to lose but time. I didn’t have to insert a coin or swipe a card or even click a button; the numbers rattled through without me. My eyes glazed as I considered what I could have bought instead of the tickets: a jetski. Five years’ worth of gas. Six laptops. I finally left the page after I lost thirty thousand dollars.

“Losing the Lottery” is an excellent example of what the online format makes possible. I admire this piece because it’s something that can’t happen on a static piece of paper. It’s interactive; it moves; it’s ambitious. “The Switch” by Pierce Gleeson is another terrific example.

Photo by Madonovan via flickr.

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