Blog Post 10.1?: Broken Hard Drives/Blog Break

Hi everyone,

A few of you have asked me if there will be a blog post for class this Tuesday — since I know this is a crazy time of the semester for everyone, I’m going to cancel the blog for this last week. Make sure to read Kirschenbaum’s “Extreme Inscription: Towards a Grammatology of the Hard Drive” on Blackboard for Tuesday — we’ll spend some time talking about hard drives and what they have to tell us about literature in the context of the semester as a whole.

In the meantime, here’s a video of hard drives getting shredded to set the mood:

See you all Tuesday!

Blog Post 10: Reading Pings?

With Sandy Baldwin’s “Ping Poetics,” we move from the sprawling narratives of search engine history we discussed on Thursday to the microscopic scope of a single packet traveling across the web. Baldwin suggests that the digital pathpings used to test network structure, reliability, and speed are a kind of writing, but that this writing “is not — or hardly at all, ever so little — a text.” Her reasoning for this, based on the notion of the necessity of an Other who responds to the text, seemed to resonate with our discussion of how we sometimes construct the language of our searches, as if raising a specific actual question to some imagined listening entity. For Baldwin, pings don’t fit into this category — they only register the indifference of the web (another issue we raised Thursday).

Is a ping a text? Why or why not? If it is, what issues can it speak to us about? If not, what’s missing or absent from it in your mind that makes it writing but not a text? Pathping is an interesting tool to play around with and see how information moves between your computer and other sites on the web — if you have a Windows machine, you should be able to access it by typing pathping.exe from the “Run” menu, or try VisualTraceroute, which offers a visual representation of a similar process. Play around with these and see what kind of results you get. Is it possible to construct a narrative or a text from these in the way that we did with the AOL search histories? If we raised issues of desire, intentionality, emotion, etc., in our discussion of those, what concerns and factors can or can’t we bring into thinking about these?

Reminder: your response  should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Monday April 19h, the night before our Tuesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

PS: If you haven’t yet submitted your suggestions to name our class mascot (or if you just have more ideas), get your entries in!

Blog Post 9: Spam, Scams, Deception, Literature

Since Edelson’s Scamorama and 419 in general are our first object of study in the last section of the course on Technology as Literature, I thought it might make sense to start with her claim that scambaiting is “not only a literary genre but a weird form of cultural exchange” (53).

What’s literary about the world of 419 scams and scambaiting? While you could approach this question in terms of whether it’s literary (a question of quality and of how aesthetically successful it is), there’s also the more open-ended issue of how it’s literary: a question of what connections or convergences it shares with “regular” literature and how it changes or refigures those.

For this blog post, I’d like you to consider the literariness of this digital phenomenon. Is there an aesthetics of 419 that you can see in the examples Edelson incorporates and the claims she makes about them (there’s also a website that her book originated from with many more examples and links)? If so, what is it? How do literary issues like authorship, audience, narrative voice, character, or suspension of disbelief come into play in these communications, and what about those categories here is similar to or different from in traditional literature, either in print or online? What points of connection and comparison seem important between 419 and the other texts we’ve read that use media technology to expand or rethink the definition of literature, such as a, Agrippa, or the work of YHCHI or other digital artists and authors?

Reminder: your response  should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Monday April 5th, the night before our Tuesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

PS: Happy iPad Day!

Blog Post 8: Electronic Literature Selections

Hi everyone,

We’ll be discussing a varied range of  texts from the Electronic Literature Directory ( based on your interests and choices this Thursday. So as I mentioned in my email to the class earlier tonight, I’d like everyone to post to the blog just the title, author(s), and link for the text you’ve chosen to read, so that we all have a sense of what everyone else is interested in talking about.

Your choice of text  should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Wednesday, March 31st, the night before our Thursday class. This is a short post, so all you need to do is post this information to receive full credit for it. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

MOMA Acquires @

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to pass along the link to the MOMA press release I showed yesterday if anyone’s interested. See you tomorrow for YHCHI’s Operation Nukorea and Traveling to Utopia.

Another Media Lecture at CHAT

Hi everyone,

Just a quick notice of another interesting lecture at the Center for Humanities — Mara Mills is speaking on “Media and Prosthesis: The Case of the Artificial Larynx and the Vocoder” next week before our class time (Tuesday, March 30 from 3:30-5:00). There’s information at the link below — sounds interesting. Check it out if you’re interested. See you all tomorrow.

Blog Post 7: Dangerously Like…

We spent time yesterday talking about Gibson’s remark in a 1994 interview that Agrippa is “dangerously like poetry,” the ways in which both his text and the project as a whole might be like poetry, but not poetry, and what it might mean for such a point of connection and disconnection to be “dangerous.”

So what is Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ work like, and what might be dangerous about it? The two pieces we’re discussing Tuesday, Dakota and Resumé I?, both invoke and incorporate multiple genres, media, texts, and technologies at a number of levels. While I’m not sure it makes sense to put a definitive label on these pieces in terms of any of these categories, the way that they relate to them is worth thinking about. What connections seem most striking to you and why? Where in these pieces do you see these connections getting made — are they textual, narrative, formal, visual, technological, somewhere in between these, or somewhere else entirely? Is there a danger in these connections? If not, why not? If so, whom or what is getting endangered?

Reminder: your response  should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Monday, March 22nd, the night before our Tuesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Lecture Tomorrow and Gibson on Recorded Media

Hi all,

I forgot to mention this today in class. but John Yau is giving a lecture tomorrow entitled “Susceptible Materiality” as part of Temple’s Poets and Writers series. I haven’t been able to find a description of the lecture online, but the title certainly seems relevant to what we’ve been talking about for much of the course. Here’s the relevant info and a bio of Yau — check it out if you’re interested.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 3:00-4:30
Lecture: “Susceptible Materiality”
Main Campus, Anderson Hall, 8th Floor, Women’s Studies Lounge,
1114 West Berks Street (corner of 11th & Berks Sts.)

John Yau is a poet, fiction writer, art critic, publisher and editor. His recent books include A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns (D.A.P., 2008) and Paradiso Diaspora (Penguin, 2006). Since 2004, he has worked pro bono as the Art Editor of The Brooklyn Rail, a free, not-for-profit monthly covering the arts, which is archived on the Web ( He has received awards from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. John Yau’s current projects include monographs on Martin Puryear and Robert Ryman for Phaidon, as well as books of poetry that will be published by Wave Books and Copper Canyon Press. He is an Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Department of Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University). He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

Also, in thinking more about what we were saying about the nature of Agrippa as a piece of recorded media (that you can [mostly] re-experience and return to) vs. the ephemeral nature of pre-media culture (oral storytelling, etc.), I was reminded of this clip from No Maps for These Territories, a really interesting documentary on Gibson — the most relevant piece comes about halfway in:

It’s worth thinking about how we talked about issues like permanence and ephemerality, circulation, and reproduction, Gibson seems to see an actually aesthetic difference between playing music (or perhaps engaging in any artform) before and after the historical context of recorded media — might be worth thinking about when we start off on Thursday…

Blog Post 6: The Multilayered Mechanisms of Agrippa

Hi everyone,

Welcome back from break — hope you’re all rested and ready to head into the literary/technological mysteries to come. Agrippa is a great text to pick back up with — in terms of sheer word count, William Gibson’s poem “Agrippa” is probably one of the shortest texts we’ll read this semester, but the history of the text outside of the poem itself is one of the most complex and involved — the poem itself is bound up (literally and figuratively) in Agrippa the book, which itself has a complex history both in print and online. We’ll be spending two days on the phenomenon as a whole, and our second day (Thursday) will focus on the transmission and circulation of the text.

For Tuesday, though, let’s focus on the text of the poem and the physical nature of the print object, and see how they relate to one another and what themes and issues they raise (both individually and collectively). In addition to reading the text of the poem (on Blackboard and on Gibson’s site), spend some time looking at the section on the book on The Agrippa Files, the archival website I mentioned last week in class — there are a lot of interesting images that should help give you a sense of what the actual book was like. Feel free to read before browsing, or vice versa — although it’s worthing thinking about how the order in which you approach the material might shape your interpretation of it (at least initially).

Once you’ve spent some time studying both the poem and the object, write a post that explores some of the connections and relations between them. What’s the significance of putting Gibson’s memory-laden text on a diskette? How do the DNA sequences within the book relate to the narrative or themes of the poem, or to its text? What are the relations between the different replications and recordings the object of the book addresses (DNA coding, photography, poetry, memory), and what’s gained and lost in moving among these different modes? What’s Gibson suggesting or thinking about in alluding to multiple “mechanisms” in the text of the poem, and how do these relate to the mechanisms of the book as an object?

Those are just a few possible ways to approach this text — feel free to raise others that seem striking or important to you. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so as always, try to add to the discussion or take it in a new direction in your post rather than covering what someone else has already written about.

Reminder: your response  should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Monday, March 15th, the night before our Tuesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Happy Browser Day!

Just another quick note — I just read that 20 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the first-ever web browser. Check out this image for a piece of digital history, and some echoes of the Telligentsia interface from The Bug