The Agonist: the best war coverage I've seen.
Available here. You can find me at the Silver Spring station.
Chuck Tryon notes a similar page for Atlanta area blogs, based on their MARTA system. It's an interesting trope--no doubt there are other examples around. People do tend to identify with their municipal icons, the most famous instance probably being the London Underground sign, which--I learned a year or two back--is actually a schematized representation of urban geography (the horizontal line is the Thames bisecting the city).
Being too lazy to draft or preview most of my entries, I tend to post "hot" and then rebuild two or three times in quick succession, getting the language and layout just as I want them. I'll also occassionally go back and tweak something hours or even days later. Of course that means the blog itself is something of a moving target for readers--a phenomenon I'll call "blog flutter," though there may be another name for it.
I'm curious about other people's posting (and tweaking) habits, and whether anyone sees any ethical questions here. MT's power-editing mode allows one to silently fudge date- and time-stamps, for instance. Obviously essentially the same issues obtain for plain vanilla Web pages, but the difference (to me) is that blogs seem to present themselves as a documentary genre.
Update 07:38 PM: to prove the point, I got the comment from Liz as I was revising to add the last sentence above.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of the blake-proj messages (entire contents of Boxes 1-3, and Box 4, folders 1-17, Box 5, folders 7-12, Box 6, folders 1-9) that consist of the email correspondence between various collaborators of the Project from 1997 to 2002 which provides a detailed documentation of the development and daily operation of the project.
8,000 or 9,000 messages in all. Don't ask how many of those keystrokes I can own up to . . .
I thought this would make a pretty good title for a country-western song. Indeed, I've written some lyrics, but I'll keep them to myself for now. You're welcome to try your hand, though . . . (we'll split royalties).
Washington DC does not have a skyline, or at least not a high-rise skyline. The tallest structure (by far) in the city proper is the Washington Monument, topping out at 555 feet. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, in a tenth-floor apartment, and my windows face south into the District. I can't see the Monument, which is about six miles distant, but I suspect that's only because of another building in the way. I can, however, see the spires of the National Cathedral, especially in the winter, when the trees in Rock Creek Park thin out. Mostly, though, my view is lush and arboreal, and looking south there's nothing to suggest the massive geo-political power concentrated in the low-rise federal city.
Or almost nothing. If DC lacks a skyline in the usual sense, my picture window view has allowed me to glimpse another. After dark I can see the lights of passenger jets rising in and out of Reagan National airport, for instance; sometimes I can see the actual aircraft in the day, but at night they are visible only by their approach lights, which slowly sink into the horizon. If the daytime weather is right, contrails from patroling fighter aircraft are also visible, 20,000 feet straight up. Closer to home, helicopters pass overhead regularly, inbound or outbound from the District. There's no way to know who's on board, but it's easy to speculate of course. The constant array of civil, federal, and military aviation is perhaps the city's real skyline, an ever-changing pointilist composition of running lights and flashing beacons.
There are other things to see too. Lightening storms are spectacular from up here. And looking south into the District on 9/11 I saw the smoke from the burning Pentagon, moments after the first media reports of an explosion there. Do I worry about one day seeing even darker clouds on the DC skyline? Of course I do.
I've been following Mark Fiore's work for some time now in Salon--he does Flash-based political cartoons, and does them well, using temporal sequencing/looping, animation, and audio to great effect. The tinny background music, for example, is the aural complement to the jerky stop-motion animation, which is itself a manufactured aesthetic--but one that seems just right, demonstrating Fiore's empathy for the medium. He also has an eye for detail: for example, watch the eyes of the characters in 3/26/03 "Congratulations," or the flies buzzing around the goat.
Other new media humorists? (Yup, of course I know about Scott McCloud's pioneering stuff.)
Have returned from STS in New York, only to find my blog, left unattended in my absence, deflated, its text having shuffled off this diurnal coil to the archival firmament. This seemed a cruel fate, hence this post, a digital finger (hah!) in the dike of the relentless time-stamped posterity of calendar and clock cycles (all of which is a fancy way of saying that I've retained the default setting of seven days for keeping posts alive on the front end of this thing).
If I feel like I have something worthwhile to say or contribute I'll put it here.
Off to New York City for the Society for Textual Scholarship conference. Needless to say (or to say the least) it promises to be a surreal kind of trip.
I've just signed publishing agreements with the MIT Press for my current book project, entitled Mechanisms: New Media and the New Textuality. The book will be out in Fall 2005 (I still have writing left to do on the manuscript).
MIT has published half the books on my shelves, or so it seems; and they make beautiful books besides. I'm very happy. (And for the next eighteen months, very busy.)
I plan to use this space as an occasional sounding board for ideas related to the project, so they'll be more about it here in the future.
Last night I had the good fortune to attend a screening of To Dream Tomorrow, a new documentary of Ada Byron Lovelace directed by John Fuegi and Jo Francis. The film is an extraordinary piece of work and a must see for anyone interested in the history of computing.
Among other things, I learned that in addition to her mathematical genius, Ada Byron Lovelace was also keenly intertested in anatomy (perhaps as a result of being bound to her own debilitated body: she died at age 37). This makes me want to ponder connections to another remarkable woman of the age.
Wow. I just stumbled across the Eclipse project: "The collection focuses on digital facsimiles of out-of-print small-press books and journals from the past quarter-century, as well as major new works of innovative writing." Among the treasures gathered here: the complete run of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, the pathbreaking broadsheet published by Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein from 1978 to 1981. There's an interesting interface to boot (back on the main page).
This is the Web at its best. Push/pull streaming interactive dynamic whatever: I've seen it all, but pure preservation and access like this still takes my breath away. Another amazing resource in this vein is a full-text set of the scholarly journal Studies in Bibliography, courtesy of Virginia's Electronic Text Center. No, it's not a journal about the art of making lists. SB, as it's known to its devotees, was (and is) the premier venue for anayltical bibliography, the study of the book as a physical object. (Bibliography of the list-making sort is technically known as enumerative bibliography.) Anyway, the online run of SB represents a wealth of scholarship, much of it contributed during the fierce stewardship of its founder, the legendary Fredson Bowers. Bowers is not a household name, but he had a tremendous scholarly career, and no one else has done as much to clarify and consolidate our understanding of books qua books. Analytical bibliography was media studies well before the latter became hip.
As Yeats would say, "surely d 2nd comin iz @ h&".
If he's right, then spectrum isn't a resource to be divvied up like gold or parceled out like land. It's not even a set of pipes with their capacity limited by how wide they are or an aerial highway with white lines to maintain order.
Spectrum is more like the colors of the rainbow, including the ones our eyes can't discern. Says Reed: "There's no scarcity of spectrum any more than there's a scarcity of the color green. We could instantly hook up to the Internet everyone who can pick up a radio signal, and they could pump through as many bits as they could ever want. We'd go from an economy of digital scarcity to an economy of digital abundance."
Over at the William Blake Archive we've finally published our electronic edition of Jerusalem, copy E, Blake's masterpiece in illuminated printing. It's taken us years. Here's part of our announcement:
Consisting of 100 relief and white-line etchings divided into four chapters, Jerusalem is his longest illuminated book, and its plates are among his largest, approximately 22.5 x 16 cm. . . . Copy E, the only complete colored copy, is magnificent. All but one plate (51, in black ink) were printed in red-orange on one side of large sheets of J. Whatman 1820 paper, elaborately finished in watercolors, pen and ink, and gold. Each impression is numbered in pen and ink in the top right corner; the first two pages have decorative borders and all the others have one thin line drawn in red-orange ink around the image, setting off each page like a miniature painting. Blake is reputed to have worked on this colored copy well into his final years, though he never found a buyer.
These images are truly exquisite. The full text of the announcement is available below.
5 March 2003
The William Blake Archive
the publication of the electronic edition of _Jerusalem The Emanation of
The Giant Albion_ copy E. _Jerusalem_ is Blake's masterpiece in
illuminated printing, and this copy is his greatest achievement in the
medium. Consisting of 100 relief and white-line etchings divided into four
chapters, _Jerusalem_ is his longest illuminated book, and its plates are
among his largest, approximately 22.5 x 16 cm. Though dated 1804 on its
title plate, it was not printed in its entirety until c. 1820. Five
complete copies are extant, along with one incomplete colored copy
(chapter 1 only) and three complete posthumous copies.
Copy E, the only complete colored copy, is magnificent. All but one plate
(51, in black ink) were printed in red-orange on one side of large sheets
of J. Whatman 1820 paper, elaborately finished in watercolors, pen and
ink, and gold. Each impression is numbered in pen and ink in the top right
corner; the first two pages have decorative borders and all the others
have one thin line drawn in red-orange ink around the image, setting off
each page like a miniature painting. Blake is reputed to have worked on
this colored copy well into his final years, though he never found a
Copy E, from the Paul Mellon Collection of the Yale Center for British
Art, joins other copies in the Archive printed and colored in this late
style: _America a Prophecy_ copy O, _Europe a Prophecy_ copy K, _The
Marriage of Heaven and Hell_ copies G and I, _Visions of the Daughters of
Albion_ copy P, _The Book of Thel_ copy O, _The Book of Urizen_ copy G,
and _Songs of Innocence and of Experience_ copies Z and AA. _Jerusalem_
copy E will eventually be joined by copy A, whose plates in part 1 are
arranged differently, and by copy I, a posthumous copy, presumably
printed by Frederick Tatham, who inherited all of Blake's plates and art
works, including _Jerusalem_ copy E, after Blake's wife Catherine died.
As recipients of our Archive Updates are well aware, we have been working
on _Jerusalem_ copy E for several years. The challenges presented by its
scope and difficulty made it an attractive laboratory, in effect, for
experiments in editorial method. Many of the adjustments in protocols and
processes that arose as solutions to the problems of creating an
electronic edition of _Jerusalem_ have already been introduced into other
works we have published in the meantime. These include significant
alterations in transcription, display, editorial notation, even in line
numbering. We also took the opportunity to rescan all of our first
generation 4 x 5 inch color transparencies at higher resolution on better
equipment, producing digital images of exceptional fidelity and beauty
that capture even the texture of the paper. This rescanning and
color-correcting process took over two years.
The Archive now contains at least one copy of each of Blake's 19
illuminated books, and in most cases includes copies from each of the
printings of the books, for a current total of 49 copies, all fully
searchable. In addition to the books, the Archive includes the engraved
_Illustrations of the Book of Job_, generally considered Blake's
masterpiece in traditional line engraving and the culmination of his long
pictorial engagement with the Book of Job. His first series of 19 watercolors
illustrating Job (commissioned c. 1805-06 by his chief patron, Thomas
Butts) are available in the Archive in Preview, our mode of presentation
that provides all the features of the Archive except Image Search and
Inote (our image annotation program). Also in Preview are Blake's
illustrations to Milton's "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso." Also
forthcoming this year are Blake's engraved designs for Robert Blair's _The
Grave_, Edward Young's _Night Thoughts_, and the Job pencil sketches,
along with an illustrated Blake biography and glossary and
never-before-reproduced copies of illuminated books.
As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access
restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible
through the continuing support of the Library of Congress, the Institute
for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia,
by a major grant from the Preservation and Access Division of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, by the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, and by the cooperation of the international array of
libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to
reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and Andrea Laue, technical editors
The William Blake Archive
It's all here in pen and ink and watercolor: bubble cars and tailfins, submarines and zeppelins, propellors and searchlights, cloverleafs and freeway mandalas, needles and zigarats.
In the context of the current times these brokedown palaces and crashed dream machines of the Gernsback continuum all look very fragile, flat and faded.
I spoke about the history of email with my students today. That got me thinking (just a little) about email and its relationship to blogging. Bear with me for a moment.
Earlier I had said, none too originally, that the blog seems to represent the next stage of evolution for the personal homepage. I still think that's true, but my recent immersion in blogging has also brought home to me the importance of feedback, interaction, multi-directionality. You post and then wait for comments and trackbacks. You log on in the morning and look at your blogroll to see who's updated. It seems to me that blogs are filling the vacuum created by the demise of many listserv discussion groups, at least in those corners of the academic world I inhabit. Conversations that would have once taken place on list have moved to the blogosphere, which functions as a richer, more granular, and--this is what's most important--self-organizing discourse network.
The two killer apps of the internet have been, and continue to be, email and the world-wide web. Both fundamentally depend on the existence and extent of the network, but so do a lot of other applications. Why did these two succeed? Two answers, I think: they are each very good at supporting a very general-purpose activity, and neither requires real-time participation. Email is, I think, still the best form of reciprocal human-to-human communication: It is almost instantaneous and almost free, and it doesn't require the recipient to be on hand to receive the message, or to respond immediately.
Blogs are not email, of course, nor do I think blogging will replace email. But are blogs taking some of listserv email's mindshare? My blog has certainly been where my excess typing has been going--and it meets both of Unsworth's criteria above.
I must admit, part of what attracted me to Movable Type was the name. Hard to resist for a card-carrying textualist like me. As I tinker with my blog, I often find an hour or two slipping away: having gone in to change just one thing, six or eight rebuilds later I've made any number of tiny alterations. (I know, I know . . . not a good use of an assistant professor's untenured time.)
But there's something I want to share here. On June 15, 2002, Kari and I were married at the Grolier Club in New York City. On the fifth floor, outside the William Morris Room (where we said our vows), the following page of text is displayed alongside the forme of lead type originally used to set it. It's the dedication to The Fine Book: A Symposium, Ed. Porter Garnett (Pittsburgh Laboratory Press, 1934):
Picked up the first four issues of Warren Ellis's new book Global Frequency after reading a piece by Henry Jenkins on its synergy with Smart Mobs. Was disappointed: a thin smattering of techno-insight atop lots of Quake-like violence. Some of this is no doubt due to the 32-page format, but still . . . neither the art nor the writing really impressed. Probably won't buy the rest.
Here's a little of what I said in my review:
With the New Media Reader and its accompanying CD-ROM Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort (and the MIT Press) have created a package that will serve the field for a long time to come. Certainly some readers will find themselves imagining ways of doing the book differently, but I doubt many will find much license for imagining ways of doing it better. . . . Used as directed, the New Media Reader will launch new art, new software, new theory, and new thought.
Looks like new media studies has come of age.
Elsewhere in that same issue, one of my favorite bits is Rob Wittig reflecting on Justin's Links.