[Humanist] 22.633 looking back

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Mar 19 07:45:26 CET 2009


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 633.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
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        Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:42:31 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.627 looking back
        In-Reply-To: <20090318060819.B248D2EFA8 at woodward.joyent.us>

Siobhan --

Thanks for this response.  I want to make clear, though, that I'm not
saying that what we can learn from a study of pint culture is
directly, and without complication, transferable to "text" culture as
you describe it.  What I am saying is that a detailed awareness of
print culture makes differences from "text" culture -that much more
visible-.  It's only possible to move past something when you've come
to grips with it to begin with.

But your summary of print culture lacks nuance.  There are and almost
always have been "underground" presses, those which weren't associated
with the production of authoritative texts, and since the advent of
moveable type it is possible to change text relatively rapidly
(compared to manuscript).  I just listened to a conference paper a
week ago about how print was used for propaganda purposes in 17thC
Spanish wars.  Broadsides released one day could be substantially
different from those released the next under the same anonymous or
pseudonymous author.  The only real difference here between print and
internet production is speed of production.  Anyone who could gain
access to a printing press could print.  Authorities feared the
production of these presses and sought to suppress them.

Furthermore, your distinction between "print" and "text" was first
developed exclusively within a culture of print -- you are still
thinking in terms of print culture, but because you're not properly
considering history you're not aware of it.

Jim R

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 2:08 AM, Humanist Discussion Group
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

> I'm saying traditional modes associated with print will not help us in this type of environment and forcing it won't work either, not when the society holds a completely different ethos. Print culture has had strong elements of centralised control. Yes it may be useful to see how that control became centralised, but it doesn't help us come to grips with decentralised and chaotic text production.
>
> Siobhan King





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