We Wish You a Very Digital Bloomsday

The Internet's Bloomsday alternatives struggle to capture spirit of Joyce's novel

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James Joyce fans around the world today are marking Bloomsday, the annual, loosely-organized tribute to the author and his Ulysses protagonist, Leopold Bloom. In the book, Bloom spent his June 16 out of the house, wandering into graveyards, bars, libraries, and the post office. That's how Joyceans from Dublin to Baraboo, Wisconsin celebrated the day, with public readings of the book and beer sold at 1904 prices. For the more digitally inclined Ulysses fan, the Internet offered Bloomsday alternatives that didn't involve leaving ones computer monitor, including:

Ulysses: The Barcode Version

Books 2 Barcodes presented the entire text in barcode format. The blog has done this before for other books, but we're not sure we understand the joke. Considering the number of readers who have given up on Ulysses because it feels like reading a barcode, this probably won't convince anyone to give it another shot.

Ulysses: The Tweeted Version

The New York Times points us towards Stephen Cole who set-up the Twitter account @11ysses, in an attempt to "retell the great, lengthy work through tweets from start to finish within the 24-hour period that the novel’s odyssey through Dublin (on June 16, 1904) takes place." It's an ambitious goal, but there's only one problem--it's not exactly Ulysses. The Washington Post notes that Cole's method included breaking the book "into 96 sections--one for each 15 minutes of the day," then "recruited volunteers from around the world to condense section into one tweet."

Ulysses: The iPad Picture Book

Illustrator Richard Berry created Ulysses Seen for viewing on the iPad. He's been publishing it serially. Two installments have been released, and the panels we've seen do look stunning. But what about people who don't have iPads. They're stuck with the Joyce version until further notice.

Ulysses: The Streaming Audio Book

This is unassailably brilliant. Starting at 7 p.m. tonight, WBAI radio in New York will be streaming its 30th annual Radio Bloomsday event over the Web. Readers this year include Alec Baldwin, Wallace Shawn, and John Lithgow. You won't get to hear all of the book, but you'll get seven hours worth.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.