From Solid to Liquid. What is an electronic text and how we make use of it.

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A presentation given at the UCC/DAH Digital Humanities Lecture, 25 May 2012.
See also Voyant:
http://voyant-tools.org/?skin=custom&corpus=1337792891109.2471&layout=[{%22r1%22%3A%22c3%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22Reader%22}]}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22e1%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22Bubbles%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Afalse%2C%22c2%22%3Afalse%2C%22w1%22%3A%2226p1%22}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22s2%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22r1%22%3A%22c3%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22DocumentTypeKwicsGrid%22}]}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22e1%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22DocumentTypeCollocateFrequenciesGrid%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Afalse%2C%22c2%22%3Afalse%2C%22w1%22%3A%2226p1%22}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22w2%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22DocumentTypeFrequenciesGrid%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Afalse%2C%22c2%22%3Afalse%2C%22w1%22%3A%2226p1%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c2%22%3Atrue%2C%22h1%22%3A%2242p1%22}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22n1%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22r1%22%3A%22c3%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22Bubblelines%22}]}%2C{%22r1%22%3A%22w2%22%2C%22i1%22%3A[{%22x1%22%3A%22CorpusGrid%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Afalse%2C%22c2%22%3Afalse%2C%22w1%22%3A%2226p1%22}]%2C%22s1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c1%22%3Atrue%2C%22c2%22%3Atrue%2C%22h1%22%3A%2242p1%22}]

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From Solid to Liquid. What is an electronic text and how we make use of it.

  1. 1. Augmenting SciasciaCreation of a research and archival framework, containing: Digital version of Sciascias work, fictional and not fictional, critical works and secondary material from different sources Frame for collaborative research Digital literary criticism of a Sciascias novel
  2. 2. (Digital) Literary Studies: General QuestionsIs it legitimate to use computers in literary criticism and analysis?To what extent?In what ways?
  3. 3. The Debate on Text AnalysisQuestions on the legitimacy of digital literary interpretation can be answered, in my opinion, only if we address first the question of the nature of the digital text.
  4. 4. Texts vs ObjectsText is a weird kind of object.A book is something that contains a text.A book is a technology, and needs an helpdesk. Helpdesk
  5. 5. Virtualizations of TextWhen we read a book we extract text and we create a mental representation in our mind. We make it virtual.When we digitise a text we are inserting it in the computer not an actual object but a virtual one, that needs to be activated.
  6. 6. From Solid to LiquidSolid: Print culture is based on actual, stable objects (books)Liquid: Electronic text changes all the times. Even stable text (TEI encoding) are there to be transformed and processed in new and interesting ways.
  7. 7. Liquid textsDealing with liquid texts is like giving shape to water.The process of representing, producing and using texts has to be renegotiated constantly and may be as important as text itself.
  8. 8. Algorithmic Criticism?“Texts are browsed, searched, and disseminated by all but the most hardened Luddites in literary studies, but seldom are they transformed algorithmically as a means of gaining entry to the deliberately and self-consciously subjective act of critical interpretation.”(Ramsay, Reading Machines, 2011: 2)
  9. 9. Digital Texts (Fiormonte 2010)
  10. 10. Questions...How all this influence how we read?Is this limited to what we read on screen?Does this change the way we read printed books as well?
  11. 11. ...and more questionsCan computers help in understanding reading?What happens when we read?
  12. 12. Barthes I : A theory of reading“Has it never happened, as you were reading a book, that you kept stopping as you read, not because you werent interested, but because you were: because a flow of ideas, stimuli, associations? In a word, havent you ever happened to read while looking up from your book?It is such reading, at once insolent in that it interrupts the text, and smitten in that it keeps returning to it and feeding on it, which I tried to describe[...] to interrogate my own reading was to try to grasp the form of all readings […] to devise a theory of reading.”
  13. 13. Barthes II : Writing Reading“Criticism ordinarily functions (this is not a reproach) either by microscope (patiently illuminating the works philological, autobiographical, or psychological details) or by telescope (scrutinizing the great historical space surrounding the author). I denied myself these two instruments […] Recalling the cameras first feats in decomposing a horses trot, I too attempted to “film” the reading in slow motion: the result, I suspect, is neither quite an analysis (I have not tried to grasp the secret of this strange text) nor an image (I dont think I have projected myself into my reading [...]). Then what is S/Z? Simply a text, that text which we write in our head when we look up.”
  14. 14. The Reading Process (SEGRE)
  15. 15. What kind of tools?The tools I am looking for should:Respect (and visualize) the progression of the reading (TIME)Highlight connections, parallels, oppositions between segment of text that are not next to each other (STRUCTURE)
  16. 16. Example of Collaborative ToolVOYANT server in Canada readingLuigi Pirandellos Shoot! (Si Gira!)(original text at Project Gutenberg Australia)[Not Sciascia because of copyright issues]
  17. 17. OutcomesThis kind of “algorithmic criticism” is interesting because it can:provoke alternative readings and interpretationsHelp in understanding the way machine use and manipulate texts (Facebook timeline)If you understand how a machine read texts, you can have a better idea of what kind of co-author he, or it, is (or might become).

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