The Future of the Book
Geoffrey Nunberg, ed.
Hypertext and Authorship
On the Necessity of Books
"Binary writing stands as an emblematic case of how the future we have yet to
construct must have a mind and conscience which reflect ancient models. If it is
a time when everything is changing, it is equally a time when in order to build
the new, and to defend it from the neobarbarianism which every generation
inevitably and invariably has to come to terms with, it is essential to have a
clear idea of what has happened in the last centuries. This is why electronic
writing needs, among other things, sound critical and philological knowledge, a
knowledge of rhetoric, of aesthetics, and of the history of writing in all its
different forms. Thus it needs the culture of the printed book in order to come
to an understanding of how this can be freed from all its unnecessary ballast and
transformed. The very physical nature of the book, the way it communicates, is
still essential" (195).
On Hypertext and the Human Mind
"It is very common today to talk of virtuality, but in this present case, by no
means a unique one, it is actually the computer which is attempting, and
succeeding, in a way which simply has not been possible with the tools at our
disposal until today, to reproduce physically the virtuality of the human mind.
The computer can therefore . . . force us to materialize the network of
relationships that we are accustomed to holding in the privacy of our
imaginations. To make explicit, through simulation, a possible text, without
necessariliy eliminating the possibility of the survival of large areas which for
the moment we do not feel it is correct to restore, and which therefore can in
the future perhaps be dealt with differently, and to read this simulation without
starting each time from scratch, will provide a new and valuable way of analyzing
a text" (202-203).
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