¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [3.1] This presentation was later published as “Little Jobs: Broadsides and the Printing Revolution,” in Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies After Elizabeth L. Eisenstein.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [3.2] In “Little Jobs,” Stallybrass’s rhetoric is somewhat toned down, while still making the same point: “The conceptual gluttony of ‘the book’ consumes all printing as if all paper was destined for its voracious mouth” (340).
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [3.5] Both the commentable draft and the republished version are available at http://docs.plannedobsolescence.net. Thanks are due to Bob Stein, Ben Vershbow, Jesse Wilbur, and Eddie Tejeda, for making the technology available for my experiment, and to Bob, Ben, Dan Visel, K.G. Schneider, Mark Bernstein, Richard Pinneau, and Sebastian Mary for their helpful comments on the draft. Thanks are also due to Shana Kimball and Judith Turner of the Journal of Electronic Publishing for their willingness to participate in this experiment.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [3.7] Moreover, the attempt to imagine such alternatives often results in a profound anti-technological backlash; one might see, for instance, Alvin Kernan or Sven Birkerts, among any number of other such sources.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [3.8] That said, even famed bibliophile Nicholson Baker was able to see the potential appeal of the Kindle, if not the success of its actual execution; see Baker, “A New Page.”
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [3.9] In fact, there are remnants of such rear-view mirrorism still lingering in current automotive design, such as front-wheel steering. Thanks to Dan Visel for this insight; see “Horseless Carriages.”
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [3.10] See as well George Landow’s argument that “hypertext promises to embody and test aspects of theory, particularly those concerning textuality, narrative, and the roles or functions of reader and writer” (2), suggesting hypertext’s more thorough fulfillment of earlier arguments about print-based texts.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [3.11] Mark Bernstein of Eastgate left a comment on an early draft of the article from which this chapter developed, noting that “[a]ll Storyspace hypertexts will soon be available today for MacOS X. And, of course, they run fine on Windows XP and Vista.” This is of course excellent news, though news that does raise an additional conundrum for electronic textuality more generally: it’s rare that one needs to pay for an upgrade, in the codex realm; a new edition might have corrections or features that a reader might prefer, but the old edition rarely stops working. Moreover, the codex is platform-independent; it’s all but impossible to imagine a circumstance in which readers of the hardcover are left behind while the paperback remains up-to-date. I’ll explore the problems presented by the preservation of digital texts in chapter 4.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [3.12] There are two obvious points to make here, each of which significantly complicates the assertion above: first, the proprietary publisher, Eastgate, bears most of the responsibility for the stuckness of such early hypertexts, indicating that one of the dangers in translating traditional publishing industry models to the digital realm is precisely the problem of remaindered texts; while a book that has gone out of print, released by a publisher that has gone out of business, remains readable in such research libraries where it may be housed, a digital title that loses currency runs the risk of becoming technologically illegible. As Robert Coover pointed out in the early days of hypertext, “even though the basic technology of hypertext may be with us for centuries to come, perhaps even as long as the technology of the book, its hardware and software seem to be fragile and short- lived” (Coover). The second point arises in no small part in response to that first: the Electronic Literature Organization has of late put significant energy into the preservation and protection of texts such as these, through its committee for the Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination of electronic literature. See Montfort and Wardrip-Fruin and Liu et al, as well as chapter 4, in which I’ll further explore these issues.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 [3.14] Several excellent resources now exist designed to help scholars find the right tools for conducting new forms of digital scholarship; most notable among these may be the Digital Research Tools Wiki, which organizes a number of such tools by their potential use. See also the Transliteracies project, which houses a number of extensive reviews of such tools.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [3.15] See Anderson and Habermas. There are certain obvious criticisms to be leveled at both theorists, most notably that the public sphere that they describe somewhat overstates its universality, given that only those admitted to the coffee houses — white men of a certain economic standing — were able to become part of that public. It is nonetheless key that the technologies of reading played a crucial role in developing that public’s sense, however faulty, of itself.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [3.16] See Esposito; see also, in addition to Price as cited earlier, Darnton: “Reading itself has changed over time. It was often done aloud and in groups, or in secret and with an intensity we may not be able to imagine today” (78).
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [3.17] See Carla Hesse, who in “Books in Time” ties the individualism associated with the book and its author not to the technologies of print or the codex but rather to the philosophical and political debates of the Enlightenment, which were staked upon understanding the individual thinker as the origin of knowledge.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [3.18] As we saw in the previous chapter, there of course remains a place for the individual author, even within such a dynamic networked environment, and so there remains a place for the individual text; as Sebastian Mary commented on the draft of this paper, “I’d argue that the net makes visible the activity that takes place prior to a text being enshrined in a form evoking the tradition of the book. Hence, dynamic community-based net activity doesn’t replace in-depth, fixed, authoritative scholarly work but rather facilitates those aspects of scholarship that are plainly more fluid and mutable, speeding up conversation and removing the shackles of Authority from kinds of print that chafe under its yoke. Or, to put it another way, I think there always comes a point where you want to write a book — but not everything works best when published that way.”
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [3.20] “Doing the comments this way (next to, not below, the parent posts) came out of a desire to break out of the usual top-down hierarchy of blog-based discussion” (Vershbow, “GAM3R 7H30RY”).
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 [3.23] See Bogost’s tendentiously titled post, “Reading Online Sucks,” in which he goes on to suggest the need for deeper consideration of the material differences between print and screen in digital publishing formats.