It’s a curious thing that when I finish writing an article for a newspaper, the last thing I do is take a look at the online edition. I only believe in the publication when I can see and hold the printed copy in my hand, and this is despite my progress with the Internet since 1997. It all started when I had to be ‘networked’ for ZDF’s “Aspekte” news programme for their “Novel in Progress” project. The training was an existential shock – my fountain pen never recovered. Elsewhere, I have written in detail about what happened as a result, whether I wanted this or not. Here, I briefly wish to mention that my website, domain name and homepage were gifts from my wife for Christmas 2003. The experience of receiving her gift was a cathartic shock. In the days that followed, I fell into a lengthy process of contemplating what owning my own website might set in motion. Surely, the rest of my life would only bring the burden of maintaining, updating and achieving total digitalization? I reflected on how this could be reconciled with my idea of a writer’s life. When I was at school, I could never have dreamt of the notion of an author as eyewitness to present-day events. Yet, nor was the thought of having my own website – as a digital gravestone – exactly what I wanted to become involved in as “work in progress” for the rest of my life.
Meanwhile, to keep up with the self-perpetuating need to update the website, I have gradually purchased more web space. Each new book publication came with the requirement for something new – from flash animations, music and film clips for the novel “Herr der Hörner” to interactive maps for “In 180 Tagen um die Welt” to a short film, which adopts all the conventions of a Hollywood trailer, and is now the latest addition for the “Jenseitsnovelle”. I live on tenterhooks to see where this will all end; and indeed, if it will ever end? Of course, these developments mean that I have lost touch with some old, die-hard habits – the powerful and special aura of the handwritten, original text, which is surrounded by numerous rituals (…)