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April 15, 2009

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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.”

Posted April 15, 2009 at 7:29 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Media Galaxy, Object Culture


Argh argh argh, I wish today wasn't such a busy day b/c I just want to think & blog about this topic precisely all day. Briefly: I'm going to "Social Web Foo Camp" this weekend, and one of the topics I want to bring to the table is almost exactly this. More specifically I was thinking about "the social life of books" -- cross-ref this with all the percolation around the idea of the future of books lately -- what does an always-connected, fully-instrumented, socially-aware book look like? How would we build one?

Okay, but more to the point: If YOU were going to Social Web Foo Camp, what questions would you want to ask (and/or) what new projects would you want to propose, specifically around this theme -- the social life of documents, the social life of books?

Don't forget "Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences, by Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star"

A quick thought to answer Robin's question "what does an always-connected, fully-instrumented, socially-aware book look like? How would we build one?"

I would think it needs to be mutable with "track changes" turned ON. Something like a wiki, but less ugly.

I would also much rather think about these things all day too....

Posted by: Matt Burton on April 15, 2009 at 03:47 PM
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