Florian Cramer on Sun, 25 Jan 2009 04:47:32 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Digital Humanities Manifesto

On Friday, January 23 2009, 18:57 (-0700), inimino wrote:
> The meat of text is in the sequence of letters; the actual analog 
> details of those letters are irrelevant.  To me, the capacity for 
> lossless copying is the hallmark of digital information.
> Can we extend Florian's remark to all written language?  Hand-
> written manuscripts seem as digital in this sense as printed 
> texts.  Even orally-transmitted stories, arguably...

Quick answer: We cannot extend it to all written language because for
some texts, those analog details - the calligraphy or typography
- are essential.  This is true, above all, for visual poetry since the
antiquity and across languages and cultures. In philology, there have
been controversies about the hand-written manuscripts of authors like
Dostoevsky and Kafka, and to which extent their strike-through
corrections and doodling should be preserved in text editions. (A
hardcore respective stance is been taken, since the 1980s, by the French
"critique génétique".) 

A technically literate "digital humanities" could greatly benefit from
such differentiations since it could reconstruct how for example
for most epics, religious works, academic treatises and later for
pamphlets, novels and journalism the analog text information was
nonessential, and that they were digital precisely to facilitate their
own reproduction. So, in this example, techno-terminological precision 
and a historical reflection beyond anecdotal "first" and "second waves"
of "digital media" go hand in hand. 



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