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Ex-foliations: Reading Machines and the Upgrade Path

Terry Harpold
Volume: 25
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Terry Harpold investigates paradoxes of reading’s backward glances in the theory and literature of the digital field. In analyses of Vannevar Bush’s Memex and Ted Nelson’s Xanadu, and in readings of hypertext fictions by Michael Joyce and Shelley Jackson, Harpold asserts that we should return to these landmarks of new media scholarship with attention on questions of media obsolescence, changing user interface designs, and the mutability of reading.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6640-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  3. Read Me First
    (pp. 1-14)

    0.01 Much of the theory of new media of the 1980s and 1990s concerned objects that have become difficult to access in their original forms ►6.29.* Thismedial-historicalfact of new media studies limits our understanding of claims made about these objects in the first two decades of the discipline. Accelerating technical and conceptual changes in the digital field also make it harder to estimate those objects’ significance for future developments.

    0.02 Any field of study so tightly bound to media technics as is new media studies will generate revised and contested versions of its tenets as those technics are...

  4. 1. “A Future Device for Individual Use”
    (pp. 15-44)

    1.01 “Let me introduce the word ‘hypertext,’” writes Theodor Holm Nelson in 1965—it is his first published paper on this subject and the first occurrence of the term in print‣N¹.°¹—

    to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper. It may contain summaries, or maps of its contents and their interrelations; it may contain annotations, additions and footnotes from scholars who have examined it. Let me suggest that such an object and system, properly designed and administered, could have great potential for...

  5. 2. Historiations: Xanadu and Other Recollection Machines
    (pp. 45-80)

    2.01All for one. Nelson’s Xanadu will advance abstractions of the Memex designs, resulting in more radical extensions of the archive.‣N².°¹

    Making extra copies to keep track of changing work is simple, but cluttering and dumb. Instead suppose we create an automatic storage system that takes care of all changes and backtrack automatically. As a user makes changes, the changes go directly into the storage system; filed, as it were, chronologically. Now with the proper sort of indexing scheme, the storage facility we’ve mentioned ought also to be able to deal with the problem of historical backtrack.

    Think of it...

  6. 3. Revenge of the Word: Grammatexts of the Screen
    (pp. 81-110)

    3.01 Text on the screen arrives and persists for the reader primarily as something seen. This aspect of the reading situation, which appears to be the fundamental common trait of reading from the screen and from the page, is so basic to reading operations that we may easily miss its particular valences in the GUI. The design philosophy of “direct manipulation” on which most modern user interfaces (UIs) are based takes as an axiom the equivalence of optical perception and visual knowledge: “what we see is what we get”; ideally, the interface shows us what we need to know to...

  7. 4. Ex-foliations
    (pp. 111-142)

    4.01 Backward glances verging on nervous atavism are a trait of every medial shift, but appearances of the page and codex on-screen seem especially freighted with effects of nested and embedded textual surfaces. In video games, for example, written or printed pages are rarely created in the game world but they are often discovered there, usually in states of decay or incompleteness, to provide a partial backstory for the game or some piece of data that is needed to solve the game’s puzzles. (Among the most telling evidence that the relation between narrative and play in games is more complex...

  8. 5. Lexia Complexes
    (pp. 143-174)

    5.01 The termlexiawas introduced to hypertext studies by George Landow in his 1992 bookHypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology:

    Hypertext, as the term will be used in the following pages, denotes text composed of blocks of text—what [Roland] Barthes terms a lexia—and the electronic links that join them. . . . Electronic links connect lexias “external” to a work—say, commentary on it by another author or parallel or contrasting texts—as well as within it and thereby create text that is experienced as nonlinear, or, more properly, as multilinear or multisequential....

  9. 6. Allographs: Windows of Afternoon
    (pp. 175-208)

    6.01 Michael Joyce’sAfternoon, a Story(1987) is an artifact of literary hypertext’s first wave to which one seems compelled to return. As early as 1992, Robert Coover describedAfternoonin an essay forThe New York Review of Booksas a “landmark,” and the “granddaddy of hypertext fiction.” Though it is unclear which fictions Coover meant to beAfternoon’s prospective grandchildren, one must take seriously the family romance anticipated by this now-famous designation. Its effects are evident everywhere in the theory, criticism, and pedagogy of hypertext, in which the work serves as a privileged model and counter-model: included in...

  10. 7. Reading Machines
    (pp. 209-242)

    7.01 Jan Tschichold, in his 1975 treatise on book design,Ausgewählte Aufsätze über Fragen der Gestalt des Buches und der Typographie(published in English asThe Form of the Book):

    Two constants reign over the proportions of a well-made book: the hand and the eye. A healthy eye is always about two spans away from the book page, and all people hold the book in the same manner.

    The format of the book is determined by its purpose. It relates to the average size and the hands of an adult. Children’s books should not be produced in folio size because...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 243-244)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 245-304)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-330)
  14. Permissions and Trademarks
    (pp. 331-332)
  15. Index
    (pp. 333-352)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 353-353)