Keynote: Writing in the Era of Digital Reproduction, Computers & Writing 2009

Bill Cope, UI

I expect you to be doing other things that are tangential.

reproducibility- something possible

“The Work of Writing in the Age of Digital Reproducibility”

the new and the not-so new
New? Not new. Concept of the virtual.
In fact, what we’ve done from the moment of writing. tele-presence
technologies across distance
auras of authenticity
tropes of proximity
seems like you are close to a friend, and you are, but the friend is not present
virtual worlds are not new for virtualness

New? Not new.
the role of the reader

#1 About 1500 (not 1450)
We basically know what happened in 1450, Gutenberg alphabetical-movable type.
Modularized production text

Textual interest was 1500

an intratextual order
hand illumination on edges
interior of page is printed
no TOC
no index

Page numbers were part of non-linear technology.

No one ever read Bibles linearly.

an intertextual order (around libraries, …)

a cultural order (…)

#2 Petrus Ramus (1515-1572)
created books around chunks of text
in that created textual structures which are now modern
including how architecture works on computers
book by Ong on him

What could be new?

Conceptual more than empirical.
4 themes about the New Media
4 consequences for a new learning

M1/ Agency L1/Design
M2/ Differences L2/Productive Diversity
M3/Multimodality L3/Synaesthesia
M4/Navigation L4/Reflexive

When digitization came along, encyclopedia didn’t change immediately. But did change. Wikipedia.

Book- Gamer Theory, built around a wiki argument

This is a book you are meant to write in.
Designed to be written in (kindle-ish book)

Television, youtube, etc
profound obscurity

photoalbum, flickr

narrative- it’s a game

agency= set of relationships

familiar auras, but profound shifts in the balance of agency

used to have tidy distinctions between writer/reader, actor/audiences, designer-producer/consumer
now all users

in the context of an epochal shift in the balance of agency:
in postFordist workplaces
in markets
in the new media
in the inner logic of the commodity
in our means of production of meaning

Used to live in mass media, handful of TV channels, one or two newspapers.
Could talk together on the same topic.

Mass media going.

Creates enormous openings of agency.

Difference becomes an issue. We could assume we were all the same when we read the same thing, did the same thing. Unbelievable proliferation of differences.

Material: class, locate, family

Corporeal: age, race, sex and sexuality, physical and mental abilities


First order categories defeat their purposes… The meaning is too vague, changes, are not unique.
We need to look at the substance of these differences.

new dynamics of difference
conditions for divergence within and between discourse communities, ability to become more different
modes of access
economies of small cultural scale

“polyglossia” world’s language diversity doesn’t have to be disappearing
Wikipedia has the alphabet of an aboriginal group in Australia with a new alphabetical character
the languages are available

Mechanically… manufacturing unit moved from character to pixel
can put image and text
Remember older books with separate pages of plates?
Image on the same page, in this environment, and sound… Radical multimodality.
sound/image/text deeply overlaid

Kress – word culture to image culture
word fetishism- word, versus stained glass windows with Protestantism (very odd reading of that)
valued word over image, interesting cultural phenomenon

#3 photolithography
word culture to image culture, began when you could put an image on a page
50-70 years ago

Are we writing now, or are we talking?
An email … is by and large the grammar of speaking
Twitter… grammar of speaking

Visual is becoming wordier.
Grammar of a building should be visible from its physical structure. – architecture
parsing the structure of a sign, these days

We’re not moving away from words.

Video technologies now allow writing easily.

more words = multimodal inveiglement

M4/ Navigation
when was text 1st digitized?
what was the first mass application of digital text?
We think of this as happened the day before yesterday. What is the length of this cycle?
phototypesetting, 1967
42 years ago, might have more to go
1970s… phototypesetting became mass applied

#5 Generalised markup language
invention in 1970, in 1986 became SGML
revolutionary, you are making up the text
you are marking it up semantically and schematically, which manufactures the text
separates text function from text form, in order to allow variability in rendering

word processors, what we need is SGML (Would this apply to UZH people?)

incunabla (pre-1500), I think we may be in a new era.

New types of text work- interesting PP slide… Maybe I can see those

textual encounters:
ersatz id’s icons, links, menus, thumbnails, file names
datebases, structured text, tags, taxonomies, folksonomies

new cognitive orders:

need to think about design, doesn’t just describe morphology, but it is a form of action
Kress, The Theory of Multimodality (maybe)

Theories of learning
Bloom’s is based on cognitive theory.
Mine is “things you do to know.”
student-as-designer, actively makes things

L2/Productive Diversity
move from one-size-fits-all
Productive diversity principles
in the new learning book– look at this (how do I find it?)

privileging the alphabet– must learn to write and read
when in fact we’ve been working with image, drawing all our lives
Read: Pedagogies journal Multimodality
intrinsic multimodality in writing, speaking…

L4/Reflexive Pedagogy
2 theories
New Learning by Bill Cope and someone else

Read: Ubiquitous Learning from UI is going to be coming out.
Journal and a conference, Dec. in NE

learning by experiencing
conceptualizing work
analysing work
applying work
a prospective view and a retrospective view
learner text and teacher text
markup by knowledge process…

cglearner software is in beta and free to use…
would that be useful?

job advert: 1 full time Ruby programmer at UI, three years.
Talk to Ron about this. Where would it need to go? Is it there? What are the requisite skills?
Ad is going out in a couple of weeks… What?

Note: I need a way to mark my own notes… Is that available within WordPress? Ask Ron.

Note: Okay, I need to get this and watch it again. Way too much stuff. I couldn’t even write what he had on the PP, much less what he said.

Always multimodal? Text and image. Is text-centered world a fiction?
Aren’t we remediating that with digital?


Blurb about social networking for younger children. What?

building relationships
bldg idea that students are working for themselves, not the tester or the teacher
other students will comment in other ways

some of our textual practices are still going to be changing
serially individualized world
cloud world- lots of people can work on it at same time, work within
happens in Chemistry, data mining
barely left the world of Gutenberg
glimpse of future

“We just saw the world’s economic system completely collapse.” Really? I don’t think so. It would have changed our world significantly different.

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