I have developed a particular fondness for the word "muscular," and I think it is a great way to describe last word art. Perhaps the technique or framework is not novel, but the result it achieves is what ultimately makes it longer lasting and impactful. Yet, I think today's short-attention span with regard to which technologies are "trending," is a good thing. If there are enough ideas out there that are that enticing, then they certainly shouldn't be overlooked. It's like we're in the sketching brainstorming. We haven't explored everything enough to decide which ones are worth really diving super deep into.
I see Homestuck as an example of both first and last word art that has fallen victim to changing times. It is essentially a pseudo text adventure on the internet. The webcomic makes use of gifs, flash animations and games, and convoluted narrative paths to follow through hyperlinks. It wasn't the first of it's kind, but I believe it's one of the most significant because of its scale and fanbase. And at the time it was a pretty novel idea. But today, the time for that kind of sensibility and aesthetic has passed, as evidenced in the direction Homestuck itself is moving now, toward the sleek indie game scene. In that way, I think culture almost holds technology and art hostage, because these things (usually) require an audience, and if you're audience is moving in one direction, how can you not follow them? Perhaps sometimes new technology holds itself hostage in this way, sending the masses in one direction, and being compelled to follow it thereafter.
technical novelty in relation to the arts
I'm glad I read Naimark's essay when I did because I have been doing a lot of thinking regarding my position on the spectrum between first and last word art. For the longest time I think I have stayed within my comfort zone of being a "last word artist"; so paranoid about making mistakes and failed projects that I would only attempt projects I knew would be successful. But I see now that failure is an inevitable part of the creative process, so I may as well take risks. Furthermore, I've noticed that when I try something that's along the lines of "first word" art, even my failures end up having some kind of admirable quality. I think this is because when I attempt something strongly grounded in an existing style or technique, when I deviate from the norm (either out of failure or by creative liberty) there is always a comparison that must be drawn between my work and the vast body of work that has already been produced.
Let's say for instance that I am working on a dual stick FPS game. If I choose to not add motion blur, head bob, or fail to align my camera correctly, there's so many examples of games that "got it right" to compare my work against. I'd like to contrast this with one of my only examples of truly original work; a third-person detective game called The Red Scare. This project of mine had many shortcomings and rough edges, but there was something charming about this game, and there was nothing else like it on the virtual marketplace I posted it on to compare with. And thus a project ridden with failures ended up being a success and became the top downloaded project in my humble array of finished products. I want to keep moving towards "first word" art. I realize now that risk is something to be cherished, not avoided.
A concrete example of technical novelty that I want to explore is the ideas of "squishyness", bubbles and soft bodies. I think the technical arts field at large has become highly proficient in rendering hard, non-organic forms via vertex manipulation, texturing and rigging. The same cannot be said for the opposite end of the spectrum. To do this I need to delve underneath the abstracted and high-level APIs that I am used to working with, and reacquaint myself with the building blocks of what makes these tools possible.
To me personally, I definitely value "First Word Art" more, not only because of it's originality but also because it's ability to shape what art will follow closely after. First of all, since there isn't really an expiration date for art, as more and more works are created, it only becomes harder for any artist to come up with something that is considered "new". Thus, even the attempt in creating First Word Art is in itself a accomplishment. More importantly, if a new First Word Art had been created, that means it will set the new standard for the works that come after. It will become the source of comparison that everything else is judged against. What this means is that, whether intended or not, First Word Art is empowered to shape the culture at least within the artistic realm. Therefore, in that sense I believe First Word Art is more valuable although both First Word Art and Last Word Art are important forms of art.
Although I find the notion of first word art and last word art interesting, I am of the belief that everything is inspired by something and that no work of art is exactly the same as the next. Therefore, it is hard for me to locate a position even along the spectrum since I see it more as a continuum of thought constantly going forward and back, following and breaking form. Even direct copy and pasted code can be different due to the creator, intention, or context in which it was made. This being said, in such a fast paced and constantly changing technological society, novelty is a quality highly valued by a lot of people. Typically, novelty for the sake of novelty does not age well; however, when novelty comes about in the process of creating something one is extremely passionate about or during the process of problem solving, the chances for that technology aging well is greater. Overall, I believe that it is difficult to confine any art form into specific categories for there are so many possibilities and outliers that need to be considered especially regarding the topic of novelty in technology.