April 15, 2009
Eat The Document
Always good to reread Brown and Duguid’s “The Social Life of Documents”:
In this way, document forms both old (like the newspaper) and relatively new (like the television program) have underwritten a sense of community among a disparate and dispersed group of people. As newspapers recede before broadcast and on-line communication, and as the multiplication of television channels disrupts schedulers’ control over what is seen when, the strong feeling of coordinated performance provided by these documents is changing. One possible result may be that the loss of simultaneous practice will reinforce the need and desire for common objects — the wish at least to see the same thing, if not at the same time. Here the Internet is a particularly powerful medium for providing access to the same thing for people more widely dispersed than ever before. Moreover, the reach of the Internet is increasing a sense of simultaneity as ideas emerging on one side of the world can almost instantaneously be picked up through the Internet and absorbed into the local context by communities on the other.
This essay makes for a nice introduction to a handful of the brainsexy literary/social theorists and historians I like to read: Bruno Latour, Roger Chartier, Michel de Certeau. (Hmm. All French. I guess Benedict Anderson and Joanne Yates are in there, too.)
It also has one of my favorite-ever qualifiers: “Art and eternity are beyond the scope of this essay.”