Felix Stalder on Thu, 29 Jan 2009 21:09:55 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Digital Humanities Manifesto

On Thursday, 29. January 2009, Lloyd Dunn wrote:
> I must correct a technical error that has crept into these discussions
> at least twice.
> Analog film frames are not digital. The case in point is simply this:
> you can take the letters of the Bible and re-arrange them to produce,
> for example, War and Peace.
> But you cannot take the frames of, for example, "The Birth of a
> Nation" and use them to produce, say, "Psycho".
> The point is that a text is assembled from a finite set of fixed,
> conventional, symbols called letters. The number of texts that can be
> created from the same finite set of letters is infinite

Absolutely. This also fits with standard definitions of the term.

The Free Online Dictionary of Computing, for example, defines digital

"A description of data which is stored or transmitted as a sequence of
discrete symbols from a finite set, most commonly this means binary
data represented using electronic or electromagnetic signals."


There are many 'pre-electronic' symbolic systems that are digital     
(Wikipedia lists about 10 of them), but printed text, as Florian      
points out, is a particularly interesting example, because many       
of the features we normally associate with digital information in     
computers are already present in printed text.                        

E.g. the ease and perfection with which it can be duplicated; the ease and 
fidelity with which the information can be separated from its physical 
carrier (after all, how different is the practice of quoting from that of 
copying / pasting?); or the ease and reversibility at which it can be 
transformed, either through strictly algorithmic means (e.g. cryptography) 
or more less strict means (e.g. translation).


--- http://felix.openflows.com ----------------------------- out now:
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions.Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 

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