Posts Tagged ‘text’

The Remediation of 3 Personal Writing Spaces

April 9, 2009

Thinking about it, the writing spaces I actually use are not nearly as varied and diverse as the ones covered by Bolter and Grusin in their essays, Writing as a Technology and The Double Logic of Remediation. Primarily (or at least academically), I compose most of my written works in a word processor. The advent of the word processor was an evolutionary step in the technology of writing, as it was simply the next step in the technological progression of how works are composed, although nothing overwhelmingly revolutionary came about. Editing and going back to change a work has never been easier and some may argue that there are advantages to digital archiving over material archiving, although this is debatable.
The largest advantage to word processor technologies is the fact that the text on the screen is completely malleable and re-shapeable at the mere click of a mouse. Older technologies like that of the pencil and paper and typewriter discourage such flexibility, as to go back would require one to start over or laboriously touch up a work with whiteout or an eraser. Although word processing and its flexible nature may encourage the act of thinking while composing instead of thinking then composing, this is actually a much more natural progression of the thought/composition relationship. This is also true because one can generally type faster than they can write by hand and as a result, the writer’s stream of thoughts and ideas can immediately be translated onto the page—a much more natural process.
Physical paper and a pencil is another writing space that I commonly use. As a non-mechanical medium (mechanical pencils aside), the paper/pencil combination is much simpler and can be taken anywhere without the need of electricity or any significant space requirements, unlike the typewriter or desktop computer. On paper, works are easy to produce and easy to archive, although they lack the ease of editing ability that electronic writing provides.
The most significant shortcoming of writing by paper and pencil in the information age is the fact that it contrives a situation where the writing, itself is completely off of the grid; the grid being the digital nature of computers and the Internet. No matter what, unless the work is retyped on a word processor, it will remain digitally inaccessible. This is fine for most works, whether they are academic or personal, but the works are incapable of entering the revolutionary spectrum of not only the web, but web 2.0, which revolves around the collaborative nature of the internet. In this, writing on paper remains a solitary act, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, so long as you want it to remain that way.
Lastly, I must include the quick and convenient, albeit impersonal and truncated writing space of the text message. By nature, the text message is a writing space that revolves around direct communication with other individuals as opposed to something that is considered published for the masses to read. Nonetheless, text messages are a valid writing space. The medium is quick and direct and seems to be taking s significant communicatory chunk out of the once revered phone conversation. In a world where media and information exposure is at an all-time high, the text message fits in nicely with its simple and direct manner with less time constraints and for better or worse seems to have ingrained itself in the culture of my generation.
In its less-than impromptu nature, the text message provides time to construct a response, whereas verbal communication does not. In this, it has crossed a bridge from other writing technologies like the pencil and paper and the word processor to that of on-the-spot communication, although more time is not only given for a response, but is expected.
The word processor is a clear remediation of traditional writing technologies, but borrows mostly from the typewriter, but makes up for its editing and convenience shortcomings. Both revolve around the concept of writing mechanically (with buttons) and discard the concept of the manual construction of letters. This concept of remediation by introducing writing through mechanical means extends to text messaging on a mobile phone.
One would be hard-pressed to find a correlation between the content in an essay written either by hand or by computer and the content of a text message. The text message’s informal and commonly shortened nature is a direct remediation of instant messaging technologies, which evolved alongside the internet, many years after word processing technologies were already in place. It seems to me that at the heart of text messaging as a writing space is the very essence of the electronically-written word. As I mentioned before, words on paper could now be considered isolatory, although equally significant. Something written on paper can never be sent to someone’s mobile phone (yet). After the advent of the word processor and the eventual coming of the Internet, words were easily made into electronic data, which is easily transferrable. This transferability was the revolution, whereas the actual eletronification of such writing technologies was merely a case of evolution.
When the communications revolution of the Internet and electronic text came about it was only a matter of time before our huge array of mobile, electronic devices such as cell phones, smart phones, Palm Pilots and etc. got swept up in the action of instantaneous communication. By nature, such devices are (or I should say were) limited by their actual design. The small keys and clunky text entering techniques that they entailed gave way to truncation. Text messaging became direct and short, simply due to technological limitations, although it represents a direct remediation from electronic text on computers, borrowing both from writing on the internet and the word processor—both of which find their roots on the humble piece of paper.