Emerson 2014

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Emerson, Lori. Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Introduction: Opening Closings

expansive definition of interface as a technology "that mediates between reader and the surface-level, human-authored writing, as well as, in the case of digital devices, the machine-based writing taking place below the gloss of the surface. The interface is, then, a threshold, but in a more complex sense than simply that which opens up from one distinct space to another distinct space. Instead, I draw on Alexander Galloway’s articulation of interface as “the point of transition between different mediatic layers within any nested system” as a way to highlight the fact that while interface does grant access, it also inevitably acts as a kind of magician’s cape, continually revealing (mediatic layers, bits of information, etc.) through concealing and concealing as it reveals." (x)

"The dream in which the boundary between human and information is eradicated is just that—a dream the computing industry rides on as it attempts to convince us that the dream is now reality through sophisticated sleights of hand that take place at the level of interface." (x-xi)

"user-friendly" glossy surface in fact only occludes inner workings

"when transparency not only transforms into that which is valued above all else but also becomes an overriding, unquestioned necessity, it turns all computing devices into appliances for the consumption of content instead of multifunctional, generative devices for reading as well as writing or producing content." (xi-xii)

media archaeology

" On the whole, media archaeology does not seek to reveal the present as an inevitable consequence of the past but instead looks to describe it as one possibility generated out of a heterogeneous past." (xiii)

struggle to keep alive variantology

media poetics: "the literary exemplar of media archaeology and a practice that extends deep from within the analog and well into the digital" (xiv)

"now that we are all constantly connected to networks, driven by the new invisible—formidable algorithms—media poetics is fast becoming a practice not just of experimenting with the limits and possibilities of writing interfaces but rather of readingwriting: the practice of writing through the network, which as it tracks, indexes, and algorithmizes every click and every bit of text we enter into the network, is itself constantly reading our writing and writing our reading" (xiv)

Indistinguishable from Magic

ubicomp, ubiquitous computing

"Since the goal of having ubiquitous, invisible interfaces and digital devices has been achieved so definitively, the current model for interface subculture is not oppositional—for how can anyone oppose that which we cannot see, that which is as ever present as air—but rather insurgent, coming from within often via the efforts of both everyday users and more established digital writers and artists who creatively find ways to hack closed interfaces." (4)

Weisner, print as ultimate invisible technology woven seamlessly into fabric of daily life; original idea of "pads" as being like scrap paper -- disposable, multiple, used to task (opposite of multiple windows in single screen of desktop)

glitch aesthetic, makes material the interface

From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly

"the interface is equal parts user and machine, so that the extent to which the interface is designed to mask its underlying machine-based processes for the sake of the user is the extent to which these same users are disempowered, as they are unable to understand— let alone actively create—using the computer." (47)
"The point at which a technology saturates a culture is the point at which writers and artists, whose craft is utterly informed by a sensitivity to their tools, begin to break apart that same technology to once again draw attention to the way in which it offers certain limits and possibilities to thought and expression. " (50)