print and i.t., cont’d

Grok: hey, where did you come up w/ your definition of information technology that led you to your post?
gizmo:um, i made it up.
gizmo: just trying to think of what might describe a diff b/t print and other forms…
gizmo: why?
Grok: b/c i was trying to frame a comment
gizmo: oh.
gizmo: well, i realzed after i posted that i hadn’t really defined terms
Grok: in a way, that’s kinda like my dissertation
gizmo: yeah?
Grok: i think it’s a misconception that print “presents” information …

Grok: materiality speaks to the idea that the book (for example) is a machine (i’d call it an engine) with it’s own rules and parameters for use
Grok: (some of which can be manipulated, abused, or broken)
gizmo: hmmm
gizmo: ok
Grok: likewise, the process of reading itself is a process
gizmo: yes, but it’s a process carried out by the reader.
gizmo: a database can reorder information or generate new information on the fly in response to user input. a book can’t do that.
gizmo: it’s a process carried out by the machine.
Grok: within defined parameters.
Grok: the machine can’t do anything that it’s not programmed to do.
gizmo: but you can reprogram it. can you do that w/a book?
Grok: in that, the book and the program aren’t that different
Grok: sure. it’s called a 2nd edition
Grok: a slower, more timely process
Grok: but it’s done, quite frequently
gizmo: one of the terms i didn’t define was “user” — is a publisher a user or do i just mean a reader. i think i just meant a reader.
gizmo: but yes, 2d edn is a reworking of the same information. but a given book is not designed to rework itself into a 2d edition.
Grok: but intertextuality is much the same process – comments on or about previous print materials
Grok: either implicit or explicit
gizmo: [keep typing. must. get. coffee.]
Grok: footnotes, and so on. the interface is what is different.
Grok: interface/engine…
Grok: consider this – a book consists of a database of information presenting through a narrative vehicle in order to display information
Grok: manners of responding to a book include, writing another book, responding orally, in print through reviews or commentary, and so on. some of this may get incorporated in a 2nd edition, or another person may create a narrative out of the conversation in the form of a lit. review or some such thing
Grok: and in some cases, Aarseth would argue that some texts are cybertexts
gizmo: maybe i need to be more precise about what i see as differences.
Grok: which are not limited to computers. the I Ching, for instance, is a text that forms itself depending on the reading process
Grok: a reading of the I Ching may vary quite a lot from a previous reading, based on one’s chosen “path”
gizmo: there is the technology of print, which involves lots of workers, requires certain production skills, consumes certain materials, and produces books which are consumed by readers.
Grok: ok.
Grok: print culture. sure.
gizmo: but then there is the book itself, the material object that is the end result of the technology of print [and i would distinguish “technology of print” from “print culture” — the latter describes a culture defined in large part by the use of print, habits of thought developed through the creation and consumption of print]
Grok: ok
gizmo: this material object is pretty static compared to, say, a database or an interactive flash narrative. these latter examples change in response to input from the “user” — the book does not actually change. you can write over phrases, tear out pages, remove and replace the cover, but it’s not really the same thing. or is it? am i just wrestling over a difference in degree and thinking that i’m wrestling with a difference in kind? i’m not sure i’ve really framed things correctly.
Grok: well, i think that primarily this is not a question of computer vs. print, but of degree of “interaction”
Grok: in other words, how much influence do i hold in the output and/or ending
gizmo: yes, that would be the Aarseth angle, right?
Grok: for example, watch a flash movie – have you interacted? is this more interactive that a book?
Grok: maybe? I’m not terribly sure.
gizmo: no, but a flash movie that requires you to make choices at certain points *is* more interactive
Grok: I should say, I’m not terribly sure that I’m satisfied with anyone’s assessment of “interaction”
Grok: what if you make choices, but it leads you to the same conclusion?
gizmo: ah, i see what you mean.
Grok: is that interaction, or simply simulation?
Grok: a pop-up book might be thought of as quite interactive
gizmo: or what if a narrative simply asks you “are you still there?” there’s no real choice in the direction of the future narrative, but it is “ineraction,” whoop-de-doo.
gizmo: because the pop-up requires you to pull on a tab or something. yes.
gizmo: check this out.
Grok: loading
gizmo: click on the word “apartment” and play with it.
Grok: but how is pulling on a tab different than turning a page?
gizmo: true.
Grok: here’s my premise:
Grok: and it is somewhat based off of Aarseth, some my own
Grok: but games use this thing called an engine
Grok: which helps establish rules for gameplay, physics, some aspects of graphical interface, graphics and so on
Grok: they both limit and allow
Grok: in other words, without some sense of rules, we have nothing
Grok: but it differs from, say, a structuralist viewpoint
Grok: that establishes a one-to-one relationship of rules to interpretation
Grok: so, i ask myself
Grok: “self?”
Grok: “yes?”
Grok: “how is it that such an idea might help us discuss and form a theoretical apparatus for discussing issues of materiality, readership, and so-called interaction?”
Grok: what happens when we bend ‘traditional’ rules
gizmo: what happens when bending the rules is part of the rules.
Grok: such as when it happens in artists books, or 2nd person narrative
Grok: exactly. i’m mean, we’re finding that print allows for a lot more than we might have imagined
Grok: witness something like House of Leaves
Grok: it *relies* on the conventions of print
Grok: for its effect, while simutaneously bending them
gizmo: here’s a stab at what i’m trying to get at while at the same time a counterargument:
Grok: (clearly, i have no answers yet)
Grok: ok
gizmo: if you fill up a database with information, you cannot predict what result a user will get from it.
gizmo: if i put a mysql database online w/php-generated webpages that allow a user to make searches, the webpage that is generated in response to a particular search is not one that i actually created,
gizmo: nor is it one that the user created (they do not necessarily know what they’re going to get in response to a search).
gizmo: it’s “authored” in large part by the database and the php. isn’t that significantly different than print?
gizmo: or is it just a faster version of what you get when you read through a book and take notes of all the uses of the word “reading”, for example?
gizmo: you don’t know how many times the author used that word. the author doesen’t know. but at the end of your searching, you have a definitive number.
Grok: well, Lev Manovich would argue that we are in the database age (I’m paraphrasing)
gizmo: i’m trying to get at what might be seen as a significant qualitative difference between the use of print in eighteenth-century england and the use of computing tools contemporarily
gizmo: what does he mean by that phrase?
Grok: and that the database is fundementally different than narrative
Grok: i’d have to go look.. but basically he points to a shift from narrative to database, in much the manner that you seem to be wondering about
Grok: in other words, you no longer create a narrative of the 18th century
Grok: you create a database of it
Grok: problem i have is, that seems to indicate the it’s just “information” … but it’s really veiled knowledge
Grok: i could be’s been a year
Grok: but Lev also highly criticized the notion of “interactivity” all-together
Grok: [re: link mentioned above. this is an interesting/odd object, where they have words contained within an “appropriate space” – like “bought” and “golden” in the “office”]
gizmo: [yes, and then some words gravitate to each other depending on what you type later. sometimes phrases are created.]
Grok: [noticed that too… interesting]
Grok: so, back to your statement
gizmo: well, that’s a good point: a database is not filled with purely objective information. it’s important to note what the categories are, and what gets included/excluded.
Grok: yes, you could create a database
Grok: and you might not think of the ways that i could use it
Grok: but i can rarely actually use it outside of the parameters established (intentionally or b/c of bugs)
Grok: by the engine
Grok: you might not think of every search, but the possibility of every search is always already built into the engine and database
gizmo: hmm. true.
Grok: if you have a database on animals
Grok: and i search for trees
Grok: it’s not like the database will do out and collect info on trees, to all of our surprise
Grok: afk a sec
gizmo: but that raises an interesting question of search engines, for example, that do troll the web for information w/o necessarily having to be told to do so.
gizmo: ok
Grok: well, that’s a misnomer
Grok: someone told them to
Grok: they have programmed routines
gizmo: i obviously need to do a lot more thinking (and reading) about this.
Grok: well, we all do
Grok: you’re in the same muddled mess i am in :p
gizmo: so…you still going to post a comment or do you want me to just post this conversation. ;-)
gizmo: ?
Grok: lol
Grok: whichever you care to do
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