Instead of plain text viewed on a page or a screen, an author creates a digital poem by making use of more extensive computer capabilities. The result is a performance by the poem and an engagement with the reader/user on a screen or in person with the aid of technology, including varying elements such as images, videos, audio, animation, and game-like structures.
Since the late 1950s, writers have developed this new genre that progresses alongside technology. Each phase of its evolution is tied and also limited to the progression of humans’ technical capabilities, from computer poems in the late 1950s and early 1960s to graphical and kinetic poems of the later 1960s and 1970s to hypertext of the 1980s. Today there are many types of poems on the World Wide Web.
The following classifications are not exhaustive or mutually exclusive. This list is an attempt to cover the spectrum of digital poems:
Digital poems have a different writer to reader relationship than printed poems. The reader often participates in the poem through interactive digital poetry. Sometimes the reader can co-author the poem by entering text or choosing the final result of a poem.
They are multi-displinary too. To create digital poems, authors often must acquire or request help from someone with design and/or programming experinece.
These poems are also constantly in flux. Many of them literally stay-in-motion as they are re-generated or added to each day. Others are in flux because of the nature of technology. As people update, some digital poems are no longer readable. Those made with Adobe Flash Player, a technology currently being phased out, are a good example.