[-empyre-] backwardness

have been away so only now getting back to reading all the posts so far.
And having read what's being exchanged i am very much struck by the exuberance by which the atomisation of 'writing' in digital media/culture is being embraced and discussed. Obviously all of us who work with computers have very different experiences and experience of what is occurring from the point of view of writing, in general (philosophically, socially, technically) and in particular, in terms of the work we are producing in and for and by digital realms/means. For myself, (and I wonder if this may also be a split common to other non-USA residents, where the technology took a lot longer to arrive!) using a computer - on any level - only began in 1995. Understanding that process has followed on in fits and starts. But either way it has entirely entered into my life as a critical tool/space/medium/instrument. I am aware however that my relationship to the computer, as someone who writes (not exclusively but persistently)but does not know how to programme, is perhaps very different than it may be for someone who is working in the fabric of the technology itself, writing code, writing new genres of text, new concepts of meaning production and reception, through their productive and critical engagement with that process. For that reason I was fascinated by the ideas being exchanged around pattern flows and meaning, but find myself struggling to relate that to my own experience - not in terms of understanding, i can see how it is operating - but in terms of writing.
I guess what I'm wondering about is something to do with the extraordinary 'mulit-modality' ( if i can steal your term bill) of the technology itself and as a consequence the extent to which 'writing' is diversified and altered in this technology, but kind of 'unstrained' (as in unstrained tea). Plain old writing stories, etc. still exists as 'digital writing', as much as new forms of writerly contexts (MUDS MOOS etc.), writing modes - code that remains hidden behind images, graphics, motion etc., or writing genres, the 'blog' phenomenon, have totally reorientated how we think about what we mean when we say 'writing'. Poetics as a concept seems to add a whole other spin to all of this which is both necessary, inevitable and also over-complicating. Then there is the whole question of digital 'space' and the interface - perhaps it should also be referred to as an 'interspace' - and how that affects not merely writing but reading. Has any technology (can I simply refer to the digital as a 'technology'?) produced such a rapidly evolving, and voraciously self-reflective condition, that sustains as much as it changes and is as ubiquitous as it is radical?
When I 'write' on the computer, I do two things. One is this - I write in very conventional structures (sentences) 'objects' (emails) that sit somewhere between letters and speech. I write these things to communicate across ridiculous distances, at unthinkable physical speeds, to people who I often never meet (and to people I see all the time and may even be in the next room to me). I also (and this probably still falls under number. one) write longer texts, of similarly conventional form though less speech orientated, for 'publication' in print or other formats. The other thing I do when I 'write' on the computer is that is work spatially with texts. I use the digital's disinterest in and lack of need for, linearity and I use computer pre'written' softwares, to de- and re-construct 'linear' texts into spatial or visual ones. This is obviously something that could easily have been done before (and has been - Marcus your mention of Mallarme et al is key here) but digital technology has allowed me to make the transition from the linear to the spatial much more fluidly and the use of prewritten software packages has also set up a kind of collaborative aspect to that where the medium itself informs the final outcome. I can't do code, so my operations are relatively crude, however I think both these adaptions of writing are still important within the concept of how we think of 'digital writing'.
The other thing I wanted to add is about literature. Not very trendy I know, but I wonder if anyone feels that the digital (whatever conception of that we may have) has allowed them to 'write' (at all) when they wouldn't have before - because of the hegemonies of literary scholarship and expectation? (I'm sure this must be the case in chat room type situations but I wonder if it is like this at all for people who might consider themselves now 'writers'?) Is 'digital writing' a licence, as well as everything else?

Some thoughts from, i guess, someone who is something of a beginner, when it comes to the digital!


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