Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blog Post #1

Before I go into any of the readings, I wanted to discuss a thought that occurred to me during lecture on the topic of archiving. We discussed the internet archive as a manner by which web pages and the information they contain enter a realm of the "undead," in which they are preserved but not pushed to the forefront, accessible but easily avoidable; an archiving system allows us to forget facts because we know that, should we wish to remember them, the information contained in the archive can be easily consulted. And yet, I think that inherent to the idea of an archive is the capacity for permanent loss. A system of determining the value of the respective ideas or objects to be archived must be used to decide what becomes part of the archive and what is left out, unless the archive is so advanced as to possess the potential to contain everything. Even in this case, it would seem to me that a loss is needed to spur the creation of an archive. Something must have been created before the archive, since the archive relies on the existence of other objects to have a purpose; an archive without anything to archive is superfluous. But in the time between the creation of the first object and the creation of the archive of which the object will be a part, something is lost. One of the first objects may itself be lost, or, at least, the independence of the object is lost. It becomes a simulation of itself when placed into the archive - the real can no longer be separated from its archived form, the object in use inseparable from the object as history.

Switching focus, I now want to touch on the Moulthrop text and its discussion of the relation between hypertext and literacy. He mentions the possibility that when taken to the extreme, hypertext will bring about the end of the death of literacy. He separates primary and secondary literacy, placing focus on the unique knowledge of formatting and/or coding, the hypotextual, as the secondary literacy needed in the sphere of the hypertextual. With the abundance of textual information and the interactivity allowed by hypertext, Moulthrop seems to think that such factors promote a person's engagement and literacy in this online world; culture in a hypertextual world is not only the product of the author, but of the everyman. I, however, am wary of the deterioration of traditional notions of literacy that could result from an over-reliance on hypertext. As seen with websites such as Wikipedia, the mutability of hypertext can lead to the proliferation of fallacies and oversimplifications. Children growing up in a hypertextual world may be more literate than their parents in the secondary sense Moulthrop discusses, but to equate (or even promote) secondary literacy with primary literacy strikes me as misguided. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that one can satisfactorily interact with a text by simply thinking about it rather than transforming its essence. Paperbacks, to me, are greater than Kindle. No matter how ironic it may seem to profess such a belief through a hypertextual medium like a blog, it's something I believe.

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