Thursday, March 24, 2011

“What if we asked how we want to read and write?”

Blogs are a received digital format that’s not necessarily well-suited to the rapid exchange of complex intellectual ideas.... They are the accidents of a handful of simple software infrastructures built to allow individuals to update webpages in a diary-like format, but one with no logical end....

I wonder what a writing and discussion system would look like if it were designed more deliberately for the sorts of complex, ongoing, often heated conversation that now takes place poorly on blogs. This is a question that might apply to subjects far beyond philosophy, of course, but perhaps the philosopher’s native tools would have special properties, features of particular use and native purpose. What if we asked how we want to read and write rather than just making the best of the media we randomly inherit, whether from the nineteenth century or the twenty-first?

I wish these were the sorts of questions so-called digital humanists considered, rather than figuring out how to pay homage to the latest received web app or to build new tools to do the same old work. But as I recently argued, a real digital humanism isn’t one that’s digital, but one that’s concerned with the present and the future. A part of that concern involves considering the way we want to interact with one another and the world as scholars, and to intervene in that process by making it happen. Such a question is far more interesting and productive than debating the relative merits of blogs or online journals, acts that amount to celebrations of how little has really changed.

— Ian Bogost, from his post “Beyond Blogs: How do scholars want to read and write?”.

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