Bits & Bytes
A COMPUTER BOOK YOU CAN'T PUT DOWN
Call it the first performance-art electronic book. Agrippa, by computer science-fiction author William Gibson, is an autobiography that comes only on computer diskette, encased in a paper book of illustrations printed with a special ink. If you touch the drawings, they will be distorted permanently. And once you begin reading the contents of the diskette on your PC, you cannot stop the text from scrolling or alter its speed. In addition, a special program deletes the text forever after the first reading.
Thus, this artwork forces the reader to make an irreversible decision: Enjoy the book once or just keep it as an unread collector's item. By doing so, the $500 artwork ($1,500 for a deluxe copper-trimmed version) is commenting on life. Says publisher Kevin Begos Jr.: "You must accept your decisions without regret." One-time "performances" of the book were set for Dec. 9 in three cities -- for those who wanted to experience the book without experiencing a hole in the pocket.Edited by Evan I. Schwartz