Gitelman 1999

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Gitelman, Lisa. Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines. Stanford UP, 1999.

"Isolating and centering machines in this way, to essentialize them as the phonograph or the computer, is misleading and denies their history" (1)

Edison: phonograph is textual device, primarily for dictation -- emerged into the world "amid a cluster of mutually defining literacy practices, texts, and technologies"

Crucial developments in 19c: shouldn't elide them in making connections between printing press and hypertext/computer age

Technology as "plural, decentered, indeterminate, as the reciprocal product of textual practices, rather than just a causal agent of change" (2)

Inscription enables recording, a "storing up" of sound

"Inscription is a form of intervention, into which new machinery continues to interpose." (3)

Less deterministic by "locating writing machines and other textual devices in the instances of invention, in narratives that show each machine, device, or process to have been authored and appropriated out of many different possibilities relevant to the making of meaning" (4)

Electric pens, mimeographs

Machines for reading and writing "as consensual, embodied theories of language" (5)

Helps us understand reception -- audience is not blank slate

Amnesia that attends to failed machines (5) -- sit in a historical "blind spot, equally obscure to history and discomfiting to historiography" (6)

Technological invention and production embedded in system of circulating documents that makes them knowable (7)

"Not only does the rhetorical character of technology allow for a 'softer' determinism by which machines are not simple, unitary influences on writing but also the same character permits a degree of critique that has eluded all but a few humanist (and those particularly feminist) attentions to science. If technology is a form of knowledge, then it can be conflicted with doubt and contradiction, with assumptions and anxieties, just like other forms of knowledge." (7)

"Fountain pens and typewriters can be just as ideological, just as much superstructure as infrastructure. Culture insinuates itself within technology at the same time that technology infiltrates culture." (7)

"machines are discursively and physically constructed"

Internalist (how technologies work) vs. externalist (locating tech in cultural/political/economic)

Many scholars have a problem articulating the discursive nature of technology; bibliographers and editors have been better at this

Richard John, history of the post office

"The study of inscriptions shows the realm of writing and reading, of symbolic action and experience, in its proximity to objects and machines. From ancient marks on clay or carvings in stone to the printed labels affixed to commercial goods today, inscriptions insistently belie their own double character, both material and semiotic." (10)

Inscription: the double-sided boundary at which the built system both represents technology and is technologically represented." (10) -- representing as both verb and adjective; "profitable doubleness" that gives rise to modern subject (10)

"New inscriptive forms interrupted and helped ratify, stretch, or commodify contemporary parameters of identity; they equally intervened between private and public life." (11)

Phonographs: "They were introduced as objective instruments of public knowledge and were appropriated as amusing media of public taste." (13)

"Because machines for writing and reading are the partial embodiments of historically and culturally contingent experiences of textuality, many hisotrical comparisons can be points of refraction, if not obscurity. Yet comparisons are always tempting." (19)

"mutual relations of technology and textuality" (20)