Back to the Cyberculture Archive




The Implications of Electronic Information for the Sociology of Knowledge

Richard A. Lanham

Professor of English
University of California, Los Angeles


Technology, Scholarship, and the Humanities:
The Implications of Electronic Information


September 30 - October 2, 1992

Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the
National Academies of Sciences and Engineering
Irvine, California
Abstract
The Implications of Electronic Information for the Sociology of Knowledge

Richard A. Lanham

Professor of English
University of California, Los Angeles


	This paper argues that the fundamental "operating system" for the humanities is
changing from the book to the digital multimedia computer screen.  It outlines
the consequences of this move for the creation, performance, teaching, and study
of literature, music, and the visual arts.  It concludes with a suggestion for
how this movement from page to digital display might inform the administrative
changes forced upon the university by the current shortage of money. 

©  Richard A. Lanham, 1993

THE IMPLICATIONS OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION FOR THE
SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE

Richard A. Lanham

Professor of English
University of California, Los Angeles


The Agenda for Group III has been set by the conference organizers as follows:

1.	How will electronic information affect the organization of humanistic
knowledge and the social basis of its production and dissemination? For example,
might the combination of electronic information resources with interdisciplinary
and multicultural scholarship affect the formal organization of knowledge,
whether in learned societies at the national level or in specific departments on
individual campuses?

2.	How will undergraduate teaching be affected by the ready availability of
electronic information?

3.	Will graduate training change as graduate students become more adept at using
electronic tools?

	I will address these three questions in the order set.
When we ask, as in the topic set for this group, what are "the implications of
electronic information for the sociology of knowledge," I take it that we are
asking these questions:

•	What cultural assumptions does electronic information bring with it?

•	What basic means of thinking and working together does electronic information
call into question?

•	What does electronic information reveal about how knowledge is held under our
present system?

•	How will humanistic information be held in a digital electronic universe?

We're talking, then, to use a phrase we will all understand, about the operating
system of the humanities.   Before we begin, let's focus our discussion in two
ways. 

1.	By "electronic information" I take it that we mean digital electronic
information.  Great confusion has been generated in the past thirty years by the
failure to make this crucial distinction.  Analog electronic information affects
us mightily--as in broadcast television--but it lacks the essential ingredient
of digital electronic information: the common signal base for word, sound, and
image. 

2.	In this paper we are reflecting upon the humanities--the creation, criticism,
teaching, and archiving of the arts and letters.  None of us need reminding how
enzymatic digital computation has been for the physical sciences.  Such a story
would be, indeed, almost the history of the sciences since 1945.  New fields of
inquiry such as chaos theory have been created by the computer, and established
fields have been revolutionized, first by digital computation and now by digital
visualization.  Although there are obviously overlaps, the humanities are being
radicalized by digital computation in a different way from the sciences.  It is
that different way that I consider here.

1.	How will electronic information affect the organization of humanistic
knowledge and the social basis of its production and dissemination?

The basic operating system for humanistic knowledge from the Renaissance until
the present has been the codex book.  Two forces converged at that time to
establish it as the central system, one technological and one ideological.  The
technology of print created in the codex book a vehicle of miraculous
versatility from which have descended alembicated variants like broadsides,
magazines, even scholarly conference proceedings.  Onto this technological
marvel the humanist ideology grafted the concept of the authoritative text. 
Humanistic scholarship existed to rescue, edit, and annotate the great texts of
antiquity and to publish them in definitive editions.  Cultural authority flowed
from these texts and thus their dissemination mattered; the great humanistic
efforts to found grammar schools, write textbooks, and establish libraries
institutional and private, sought to insure such dissemination.  This dual
explosion of a technology of expression and an operating system of cultural
authority gained additional force at every point, as we all know, by the
translation of the Bible into the vernacular languages and its "publication,"
its democratization, in the new form.  This heroic democratization, with all its
triumphs and mortal perils, can be followed in the career of  William Tyndale,
the principal, if unacknowledged, translator of the King James Version. 
We still operate under this system and take for granted its rules.  Books are
stored in libraries, taught in schools, carry on learned debate, enshrine the
truth, as we have been given to know it.  After books have been printed and
bound, they are unchangeable.  Thus the idea of a single author can be
protected.  Because books can be physical property, they can be intellectual
property, protected by some version of copyright law.  Thus the career of
authorship becomes possible.  And books create a natural authority: you can
quarrel with them but only marginally or by writing another book.  If you are
dealing with the ipsissima verba of God, as in the Bible, you cannot quarrel
with the Author at all.  (The quarrel about interpretation will continue,
presumably, until Domesday.)   Books have always been centered in the word;
illustrations can be reproduced, but they require a different radical of
expression, one which has almost always been much more expensive than setting
text;  color has always been an expensive ornament, not an essence.  Sounds
cannot be reproduced at all. 
"We are coming to the end of the culture of the book," O. B. Hardison has
written.  "Books are still produced and read in prodigious numbers, and they
will continue to be as far into the future as one can imagine.  However, they do
not command the center of the cultural stage.  Modern culture is taking shapes
that are more various and more complicated than the book-centered culture it is
succeeding."  What happens when this occurs, when humanistic knowledge moves
from book to screen?  The operating system changes fundamentally.  Texts are not
fixed in print but projected on a phosphor screen in volatile form.  They can be
amended, emended, rewritten, reformatted, set in another typeface, all with a
few keystrokes.  The whole system of cultural authority we inherited from
Renaissance Humanism thus evaporates, literally, at a stroke.   The "Great
Book," the authoritative text, was built on the fixity of print technology. 
That fixity no longer operates.  The reader defined by print--the engrossed
admiration of the humanist scholar reading Cicero--now becomes quite another
person.  He can quarrel with the text, and not marginally, or next year in
another book, but right now, integrally.  The reader thus becomes an author. 
Author and authority are both transformed.
The possibility of such instantaneous disagreement changes the time-scale of
humanistic debate.  We can compare the old diastole and systole with the new by
juxtaposing the stately pace of humanistic publication--years to write a book, a
year at least to publish it, years to review it, more years for it to affect the
debate--with online special interest groups, where the interchange happens
daily.  To change the time-scale of humanistic knowledge affects its essence,
not only its pace.  It changes, to take the simplest example, the paradigmatic
expressive form from the essay (another Renaissance creation) to online
conversation (a return, on a faster time scale, of the paradigmatic medieval
form, the letter). 
And, as we have now all discovered, the protective carapace of copyright law
simply cannot apply.  Copyright law was created to regulate a market in printed
books.  Because digital information has physical expression but no physical
embodiment, it cannot be owned in the same way as a printed book.  You can eat
your cake, give it away, and still have it too.  A new marketplace must be
devised.  The new digital bounty, by denying the laws of substance, changes
fundamentally both the career and the cultural authority of authorship. For
properties in the humanities, existing copyright law seeks to focus on a central

question--substantial similarity.  To make such a distinction, you need a
substance.  Electronic text, unlike books, has none.  Copyright law must have a
fixed text, with a fixed order.  Such an order is an integral part of a literary
text and essential for making the comparisons copyright litigation always
involves.  Yet a digital electronic text, because of its intrinsic volatility,
can leave the order up to the reader.
As a brilliant recent book, Writing Space, by the classical scholar Jay Bolter,
has made clear, the natural form of electronic expression is not linear but
hypertextual.  Hypertext leaves the organization up to the user.  Beginnings,
middles, and ends are what he or she makes them out to be.  The final "reading"
order represents a do-it-yourself collage, a set of user-selected variations,
around a central theme.  The idea of beginning-middle-end--the fundamental
Aristotelian laws of artistic creation and indeed of rational thought itself--is
called into question.  Narrative and logical order, in such a world, are not
fixed in the text but a boundary-condition which the reader can apply when and
how she wants to.  This change in the fundamental nature of narrative structure,
and of the human "reason" a common reader is assumed to possess, subverts
utterly the kinds of textual comparisons any copyright jury can be expected to
understand. 
Consider for a moment a mock trial in which I participated at the 1991 "Digital
World" meeting.  The case at bar: An academic "author" decides to develop a
multimedia program on gangs in the inner city.  As one segment of this program,
he uses, without permission (it was requested but denied), the famous gang
knife-fight scene from the film West Side Story.  (In the Romeo and Juliet
original, this is the duel between Tybalt and Romeo [Act III, Scene 1].)  The
scene is short, and forms part of a program segment on gang fights which is much
longer.  A "reader" of the program need not look at this scene at all, or need
not look at all of it.  It may not even be noticed.  Each "reader" makes his way
through the program in an idiosyncratic way--no central guidance.  How much of
the "substance" of the program does the borrowed segment represent?  Is it
prominent, because it comes from a famous movie, or de minimis, because it lurks
in a corner easy to overlook?  In a program basically scholarly in nature, can
it be reckoned "fair use"?  If the "substance" is not fixed in book form, nor
the "reader's" trajectory of attention implied, the true nature of the taking
simply cannot be measured. 
Electronic information, then, affects the organization of humanistic knowledge
and the social basis of its production in some fundamental ways. 

•	It changes the central humanistic artifact (the CPU, we might call it) from
printed book to digital display.
•	It changes what we mean by author.  
•	It undermines the basic idea of originality last glorified by the Romantic
Movement. 
•	It changes what we mean by text. 
•	It radically compromises the cultural authority of the text. 
•	It metamorphoses the marketplace of humanistic inquiry in ways so radical we
can scarcely yet find our way. 
•	It desubstantializes the arts and letters (and perhaps other areas of
humanistic production) in much the same way that the information society has
desubstantialized the industrial revolution.

The operating system we inherited from the Renaissance, then, undergoes digital
metamorphosis: book, author, authoritative text, book market, library, all
become something else.  But this metamorphosis only begins the digital
transformation.  Consider the central part of the humanistic enterprise, the
arts and letters themselves.  We can do this in three parts.  First, we'll
consider the current state of their new expressive medium--what people now call
"multimedia." Second, we'll sample the state of play in music, the visual arts,
and letters.  Third, we'll ponder the implications for the arts of their new
fundamental boundary condition:  in a digital universe, words, images, and
sounds share an isomorphic representative code. 
(1) The current state of multimedia.  If the basic mode of cultural expression
is moving from the book to some electronic form, what does this form look like? 
Do not confuse it with broadcast television.  Broadcast TV is an analog form, a
fundamentally different affair.  I have no doubt that Nicholas Negroponte is
right in prophesying its imminent, and let's hope, eminent, demise.  This new
expressive form that is replacing the book is emerging from a cluster of
technologies which people now call, for better or worse, "multimedia."  In
trying to explain it,  I am severely constrained because I am trying to explain
in print, to people who have internalized print into an unalterable condition of
human life, a fundamentally different medium.  There ought to be, in every such
presentation, a demonstration.  But circumstances do not permit it, so we must
try to explain a dynamic medium in a static one, an imagistic medium in words
only, a hypertextual one in linear text, a color one in black and white, a
speaking one in the echoing voice of prose style. 
How, thus constrained as we are by putting new wines into an old bottle, can I
describe the current expressive vehicle for the humanities?  It is a composite
of techniques.   Start with an electronic screen.  This screen can do everything
that a computer can do.  It can display and manipulate type.  Unlike print, it
permits the reader to change the display from one typeface to another, for
ornamental effect, for expressive effect, or simply to enlarge it for easier
reading.  (The ability to magnify print has to date been thought simply an aid
for the near-blind, but it goes much further than that.  How many books have
vanished down the oubliette because of minute type?  I first read the poetry of
Edmund Spenser in type 1/32nd of an inch high, and it took me half a dozen years
to get back to the poetry.)  Thus type becomes, instead of the famous crystal
goblet of Victorian typesetting theory, an expressive parameter in itself, an
iconic surface that interacts continually with the words which it bodies forth.
This new self-conscious expressive dimension isn't just a visual joke, like a
ransom note assembled from a dozen different typefaces.  It introduces a
fundamentally different meaning for literacy itself.  The late Eric Havelock,
the great Hellenist, argued that the Greek alphabet enfranchised modern literacy
because it was simple enough to be internalized in early childhood.  The reader
thus looked through  the words on the page to the thoughts expressed.  Thought
was, thus, unmediated--or at least made to seem so.  (Greek and ancient Latin
manuscript notation, written without word spaces, was of course much less
transparent than modern type, or even than a fine Renaissance italic hand, but
the principle remains.)  This transparent medium was for humanism what Newtonian
physics was for science--a fundamental paradigm.  Pure conceptual thought,
unmediated by expression, was possible and indeed ideal.  The printed page was a
transparent window onto the world of thought.  
The computer screen constitutes a more opaque surface altogether.  We have to
decide how we are going to constitute our "reality."  Much more
self-consciousness enters into the occasion.  This self-consciousness affects
"the organization of humanistic knowledge" at the most intimate level.  Both
author and audience, citizen and society in the world of letters, become
fundamentally more self-conscious about themselves, about writing, about how
social decorum is constituted.  We have to do here not with an ornamental
elegance but a fundamental state-change in how the social imagination works.
A multimedia "page" can manipulate printed text not only in visual scale but in
conceptual scale.  We can construct a text, using an outlining program, in
layers, and the reader can choose which level of generality within which to
read.  Typographical formatting of books tries this but within very severe
limits.  Its basic cognitive scale is fixed, and with it the reader's time
scale; the reader follows the argument on the level of generality the author has
chosen to employ.  With the new medium, the scale at which conceptual thought is
pursued now becomes a user-selectable parameter.  Such a scaled reading is
"hypertextual," but in a particularly ordered, top-down way.  It would seem to
be a natural for such written discourse as the law, for example, though to my
knowledge no one has yet used it for this purpose.  It offers some obvious
pedagogical applications, but here, too, it has not yet been exploited.
In the new expressive medium, text can also be in color.  We see in magazine
formats and advertisements how such a text might look, but we dismiss it as a
possible vehicle for conceptual thought.  I don't think we should.  It seems far
different in the context of, for example, a digital magazine published on a
CD-ROM.  We have proverbialized black and white expression as a guarantee of the
truth ("I've got it down here in black-and-white!"), but the proverbs can't hide
the technological base of this metaphysical verity.  "Black and white," like
print technology as a whole, works by sensory exclusion; there is nothing
intrinsically truthful about such a technique.  
Freedom of the press, the cynical proverb hath it, means owning a printing
press.  Now, through desktop publishing programs, such ownership  has been
radically democratized.  This democratization indeed constitutes a revolution in
"the social basis of. . .production and dissemination" for humanistic knowledge.
 But desktop publishing brings other changes as well.  In a print world, we
think of print as fixed, "cold type" even when it has been produced by
photography.  You set it.  In a desktop publishing world, you flow type.  The
fundamental metaphor shifts from static to dynamic.  This "liquidity" of our
basic alphabet will affect in profound ways how we think about reading, about
literacy itself.  What becomes, for example, of the stability of spelling,
punctuation, and syntax?  Will we return to the chaotic days of Elizabethan
orthography?
But all these changes, enzymatic though they are, only hint at the fundamental
change that screen brings to page:  a radical alteration in the alphabet/icon
ratio of ordinary discursive prose.  In a desktop publishing program, you not
only "flow" your text, you usually flow it around pictures.  To find the
critical machinery needed to analyze such an alphabetic/iconic convention, we
have to go to previously marginal expressive conventions like shape poetry.  (We
might also, if our humanistic respectability didn't forbid it, consider the new
genre of "serious" comic book.)  Such a mixture of word and image is not utterly
new, to be sure, but digital expression poses it with a resurgent force.  The
new humanistic "page" can reproduce images as easily as text, and it can
manipulate them to an equal depth.  And the white space is free.  The playing
field for word and image thus finds a miraculous enlargement.  We can now
process images as easily as we do words, and this ability has called forth
horrified perturbations of dismay.  Because we have thought photographs, like
"black-and-white" words, to be unalterable talismans of truth, like long-time
prisoners we shudder when our chains are removed.  But all these fixities are
technological conventions, not eternal truths.  
Our allegiance to the truths of alphabetic expression, in the humanistic world
especially, has become so strong that we denigrate iconic communication as
"comic book culture."  But the power of the visual cortex to organize
experience, not to mention the power of visual art to render it joyful, surely
indicates that this prejudice must dissipate.  We are in for a complete
renegotiation of the relationship between verbal and visual thinking.  This
renegotiation, like the others we have considered, goes deep.  The two sides of
the brain are being brought into a new--and, perhaps we may find, more
balanced--relationship.  This rebalancing finds its scientific counterpart in
the emergent discipline of "visualization," the use of computer graphics to
think through, conceptualize, problems rather than simply to illustrate
solutions arrived at through other means.  I am not sure what an imagistic, or
iconic, or iconographic, "organization of humanistic knowledge" will look like,
but it will certainly be different from our present one.  Perhaps we should look
to the patterns of thought built up by logographic languages like Chinese or
Japanese for guidance.  At all events, "visual thinking" will become much more
than an oxymoron, or even a paradox.  The growth stock, in such a new humanistic
world, will have to be the visual arts and art history, will it not?
Classical rhetoric spoke often of the "colors of rhetoric" and we are now
equipped to literalize this metaphor.  But with even greater urgency it urged
the power of the "speaking picture."  We can now literalize that ideal too, for
we can on the multimedia "page" add sound to word and image.  Even entry-level
computers can now add the spoken word to the written text.  Soon it will be a
common mix.  Voice, written word, image.  And music too.  It is hard to wrap
your mind around such a complex sensory mix, but I don't see why it should
dismay us--although it does remind one a little of the Greek rhapsodic
performance which so disconcerted Plato! 
So.  We have an expressive surface which can mix word, written and spoken, with
image and music.  A Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk for the common reader.  To this
rich expressive surface,  now add a dynamic digital video signal--that is, mix
in movies as well as still photos.  The "capture boards" which enable us to do
this, although some impoverished English professors still cannot afford them,
have been steadily declining in price.  Thus the history of film and
television's dynamic imagery becomes available, part of our new system of
humanistic "production and dissemination."  The film and television world's
treatment of its rich archive has always been a scandal, but a digital universe
makes it worse than that--a financial blunder.  The VCR democratized the history
of film and television, stormed the archival Bastille, as it were.   Now a
further democratization offers itself:  the digitization of filmic record into
an archival form where it can be stored more safely and dispensed more widely
and at less expense.  More than all this, though, the digitization of our visual
archive, both still and moving, democratizes it still further, for it offers the
power to reconfigure, to reconstitute. 
At this point, the great cookie monster of humanistic angst, broadcast TV, has
entered our new expressive surface.  Once we digitize it for a computer screen,
we can manipulate it as easily as we manipulate every other digital signal.  We
can invert beginnings, middles, and endings to make up new stories.  We can use
the basic art form of our time, collage, to our heart's content.  Talk about
zapping the commercials--we can zap the programs!  Thus we disarm the monster
than threatens to devour us.  Surely even Neal Postman could not object to this.

The multimedia developers have chosen as their "God-term" the word
interactivity, and rightly so.  At the deepest level, humanistic expression, and
the means which disseminate it, have moved from a static to a dynamic medium. 
Is this not, as well,  a fundamental movement of Western art in our time? One
thinks of the Italian Futurist Marinetti's exploding a printed text into its
visual components. A building for us now is not a timeless monument but, like
the Centre Pompidou, for example, a structure built to change and interact with
its environment and its inhabitants.  From the sculpture garden we move to
Christo's Running Fence, and to Happenings.  From the gallery Madonna we move to
Jean Tinguely's interactive junk-machines.  From the tranquil landscapes of
Poussin and Lorrain, we move to the minimalist paintings and room environments
of Robert Irwin, where not only surfaces and walls and colors but the very
nature and palpability of light itself change as we watch, and gaze, and ponder,
and enter into the surface.  And from there, to continually changing,
algorithmically composed computer "paintings."
The multimedia developers keep claiming that they have created a form so new
that neither they nor anyone else knows what to make of it.  But the aesthetic
we need to interpret the new expressive surface that humanism now wields can be
found just here,  in the history of the visual arts from Futurism and Dada to
the present.  Scale-change, repetition, collage, chance-based creation,
volatility, interchange of reader and writer, creator and perceiver, the radical
democratization of signage, etc.--all these and more reveal the extraordinary
fact that the visual arts have, once again, miraculously imagined an expressive
explosion before it took place, before digital electronic means made it
possible.  People who develop the kinds of arguments I am sketching out are
always reproached with being "futuristic," prophets of a sci-fi future that
stable feet-on-the-ground people should beware of.  Two answers present
themselves to this ever-green reproach.  First, the new multimedia humanistic
expressive surface already exists.  None of these expressive possibilities is
rare or unknown or undeveloped, some of them are quite cheap, and all of them
are getting cheaper.  But the stronger argument for this new expressive surface,
and distribution system, for humanistic expression is never brought forward--the
very history of the twentieth-century arts.  If the digital revolution has not
really happened to the humanities, if the changes I have been charting have not
occurred, then the history of twentieth-century art is a meaningless aberration.
 It may be so, but it takes some temerity to make such a claim. 
(2) The state of play in music, the visual arts, and letters.  The arts are
"humanistic information" in one of its most basic forms. How, in creation,
performance, and teaching, have they been digitally transformed?  We might find
our footing in the performing arts by considering music.  Over half of the music
performed in America these days has a digital base.  Recording and playback are
entirely digitized, with the consequences for listener-directed reconfiguration
that the compact disc has made familiar to us all.  Musical publication has been
vastly democratized by electronic means.  The nature of musical instruments has
been fundamentally changed.  There seem to be only three basic ones:  the
electronic keyboard, horn, and drum pad.  From these, all the sounds that
carefully tuned brass and magically varnished wood create can now issue.  These
sounds are not yet identical to those made by acoustical instruments, but the
transformation has nevertheless occurred.  Musical composition now proceeds as a
collage, specific sounds or bits of performed music are "sampled" into a single
piece of music.  Often the sampling proceeds, as John Cage predicted it would,
from the world of ordinary, nonmusical sounds.  It needs no extraordinary
mother-wit to extrapolate from these state-changes to the alterations required
in music education. 
In such a digital electronic world, "the social basis of production and
dissemination" has indeed changed.  "Musical talent" in such a world means
something quite different from that in the world created by the Renaissance. 
The physical talents and training necessary for performance have been radically
democratized in range and altered in kind.  And the "performance" of a piece of
music resembles far more the act of writing than the high-wire act of
professional concertizing.  The digital performer depends, as does the writer,
on a rush of power created by time-scale.  As a writer, I work for twenty hours
to create what you read in one; the power comes from the compression of effort
and design that writing allows. That compression now can occur in musical
performance.  And the performance, the act of dissemination, now occurs in
private as well as in public; since the signal is digitized from the beginning,
to replay it at home is as "authentic" as to replay it in a concert hall.  All
of this sampling, collaging, and replaying creates horrendous copyright
confusion, of course. 
In the visual arts, let me single out two exemplary transformations.  I take the
first one directly off the screen upon which I now project these words.  Like
many other people, I use a screen-darkener program called After Dark.  It takes
over when the muse deserts me.  After the keystrokes have stopped for a
specified time, to protect the screen from burn-in it creates, through various
algorithms, wonderful moving visual patterns on my screen.  Some are narrative
and cute, one or two even cutesy--prowling cats, flying toasters, and the like. 
The most beautiful ones, however, draw abstract patterns of ever-changing
catenary curves, boxes, ever-vanishing and reappearing perspectives, Mondrians,
and so on.  They rival the best conventional geometrical abstractions done with
oils on canvas.  I happened the other day to look at a reproduction of a real
Mondrian:  it wasn't the color differences that I noticed, but the absence of
motion.  Will this not happen to anyone who is used to a dynamic visual medium? 
What of how we look at still pictures?  How we teach about them?  Research them?
 Will not all of these change radically?  (You can see the changes in research
techniques peeping through in conventional art history here and there. 
Consider, for example, the resurvey of the Rembrandt oeuvre now underway.  Does
such a survey not, as a programmatic assumption, transfer the final reality of
"Rembrandt" to a dynamic creative energy we choose to call by the artist's name,
while the individual pictures become simply print-outs, temporary static
expressions of a dynamic center?)
After Dark  has always included means for the user to vary the patterns, combine
them according to taste, repaint them as it were.  These opportunities have not
gone unremarked, and customizing the After Dark patterns is now a cottage
industry.  In such a world of viewer customization,  conventional still
"paintings" will never be the same.  The time dimension they lack will be keenly
felt, just as the noises Tinguely's machines make in a gallery make us feel the
disturbed ritual silence of a conventional gallery.  And much of the artistic
"originality" we have been brought up to admire in this breathless silence now
comes from a new, algorithmic creator.  If a painting is a kind of humanistic
knowledge, as I hope we can agree it is, then we have a new way of organizing
and disseminating it. 
As a second heuristic example, let me discuss for a moment what I will call
"virtual architecture."  This genre has always existed--plans, sketches, and
renderings of an architect's unbuilt work.  In very rare cases, like that of
Frank Lloyd Wright, designs unbuilt during the architect's lifetime are built
later, as a cultural homage.  Now the "social basis of production" has changed
here too.  Instead of huge rooms full of drafting-table drudges working out
half-inch details with pen and ink, we have a computer-graphics program within
which the building can be designed, and then reconfigured at will, to be printed
out, with whatever scaling manipulation needed.  And then, through the
simulation technique called "virtual reality," we can "walk" through a
simulation of the building's three-dimensional space.  This is no blue-sky
affair; in Japan, kitchen planners sell their designs to housewives this way. 
These techniques are being extended to larger civic spaces.  Thus architectural
design is radically democratized.  Architects without clients can yet "build,"
and clients without architects can yet "design."  All of us, not only those with
acute powers of spatial reconstruction, can walk through these unbuilt
architectural, and civic, spaces and see how we like them.  Again, the critic
can become a creator.  These computer-assisted design techniques represent an
extraordinary metamorphosis in the sociology of architectural design; they
fulfill and genuinely empower the "behavioral design" movement which has beaten
so often in vain upon the cold glass edges of the International Style.
In the literary world, the patterns of postmodern fiction have anticipated
electronic display, too.  Postmodern narrative patterns are hypertextual rather
than linear.  The typographical manipulations in Kenneth Burke's Flowerishes or
Derrida's Glas remind us of Marinetti and the Italian Futurists at the beginning
of the century.  But the real revolution in the production and dissemination of
fiction has come in participatory forms, in video games, theme parks, and museum
simulations.  We discount these in the academy because, like the novel when it
first began, they are an emergent popular art rather than belles lettres.  When
we talk about "democratizing" literary experience, we usually mean taking our
regular seminars and teaching them to audiences which normally don't or can't
attend them.  This is a fine thing to do, but the real, the radical
democratization of literary experience is taking place elsewhere, in the
re-creational areas I've just noted and, indeed, in the almost universal use of
dramatic simulation for all the processes in the world of work.
And not only in the world of work.  We might reflect for a moment on the
implications of computer simulation for writing history.  New powers of data
searching and sifting only begin the story.  Historical events can be reenacted,
with the "reader" acting either as participant--"making" history--or as
interpreter--"writing" history by choosing among various possible weightings of
character and event.  We can, dyslogistically, call this the "fictionalizing" of
history or view it eulogistically, as an alternative to Ranke's positivistic
history "as it really happened."  Interactive videodiscs like the CBS program on
the San Francisco earthquake, or more complex programs like the IBM Columbus,
supply the raw materials from which a student can contruct her own historical
essays in video form.  The use of illustrative live video clips now often
accessed in medical texts through light pen bar codes surely will be used for
historical illustration and citation.  (A reader who wants an illustration of a
particular heart operation uses the light pen to call up a real-time video of
that operation on a video monitor.)  But this is an interim technology.  The
mature one will interpolate live video clips into the historical text; we can do
this now on a moderately sophisticated home computer.  But looming larger than
these specific technologies is the whole idea of historical simulation as a
basic learning technique.  Again, broadscale democratization.
(3) An isomorphic representative code for words, images, and sounds. In a
digital universe, word, sound, and image share a common notation.  They are, at
a fundamental level, convertible into one another.  I have a program which
traces drawings and makes them into music.  You can  make music from any
imagistic source this way--it has been done with hospital charts, to pluck a
pleasingly outré example from the current scene.  And you can move the other
way, derive images from music.  Plato dreamed of a common mathematical basis for
the Forms.  Digital notation creates it, or something very like.  And Mandelbrot
seems to have found another digital path to this goal, finding the key to visual
form in the arts in the self-similar fractal patterns described by chaos theory.
 Thus the arts draw together, and together with mathematics, in a truly wondrous
way.  What does this convergence mean?  We don't altogether know yet, but
certainly the traditional areas of creativity now overlap, with consequences for
the democratization of the arts, and for the academic organization within which
they are taught.  How can we keep apart the practice of arts with common methods
of input and a common digital base?  Here are grounds for a genuine revolution
in the "social basis of production."  How can we keep apart the study of these
arts?  How long can we keep the teaching of these arts in separate departments? 
Here are grounds for a genuine revolution in the "social basis of
dissemination." 
It is time for another internal summary.  We have seen that digital expression
has changed in fundamental ways what art is, how it is created, and how it is
disseminated.  We have seen that the common digital base brings the arts into a
fundamentally new relationship, one that transforms how they are studied and
taught.  We have seen that, if you wish to study how electronic information
affects the sociology of humanistic inquiry, you must start by pondering the
enormous changes that have occurred in the arts and letters that constitute the
core of that inquiry.  It makes no sense to talk about how digitization has
transformed our scholarship and teaching about the humanities without
confronting the massive changes that have come to the humanities themselves.
Having done that, at least in a preliminary way,  let's switch our gaze from the
organization, production, and dissemination of the humanities themselves to the
academic humanism which studies and teaches them.  What the "humanities" are
nowadays is largely what the Renaissance humanists defined them to be:  to study
"humankind" is to study the great texts, literary, historical, and
philosophical, and to a lesser degree the art and music that accompany them.  We
have grown so accustomed to this definition of "humanism" that we have failed to
see how narrow it has become.  The narrow focus is a product of rhetorical
education.  The rhetorical paideia which governed Western education until the
explosion of the modern subjects a century and a half ago taught through a
centripetal system.  Every type of inquiry was included in the corpus of great
texts, and the formal system of study and performance built on them.  History
was studied through formal speeches recreating famous historical occasions. 
Psychology was studied through acts of personification.  Political science was
studied through the dynamics of verbal persuasion.  Thus to study these texts in
this way was to study all that pertained to humankind.  All the great subjects
were drawn inward into the verbal center.  Needless to say, we proceed nowadays
on the opposite system, a centrifugal one in which new subjects are continually
being thrown out into discrete orbits.
As a result of this rhetorical centripetality, the name "humanism" for the
narrow study of the arts and letters in their "high" or at least formal aspects,
claims far more than it should.  It claims a theoretical centrality it no longer
possesses.  Either this centrality must be renounced or we must include in the
humanities some fundamental areas of inquiry which we now omit.  These
omissions, as I see it, constitute the great suppressed agenda of the
humanities, not the current race-gender-class obsessions.  Let me discuss three
segments of this suppressed agenda:  behavioral biology, behavioral
neuroscience, and the study of nonlinear systems--what is now called "chaos
theory."  I choose these because, instead of being drawn into "humanism" by
conceptual affinity, as ought to have happened, they are now being driven into
collision with it by the logic of digital technology.  I must address this
up-to-now unremarked technological pressure because it constitutes the most
profound way in which--to return once again to the agenda of this
session--digital technology is affecting "the organization of humanistic
knowledge."
Electronic technology has prompted so hostile a response from the humanities
establishment because it creates a different literacy from our customary
print-based one.  As we have seen, electronic "text" mixes word, sound, and
image in new ways.  It thus draws on different areas of the brain, and lays down
different neural pathways within it.  In so doing, it affects "the organization
of humanistic knowledge" at the most fundamental organic level.  Jane Healy has
argued, in a thoughtful recent book that we are educating a generation of
children whose brains lack the neural networks needed for higher-level cognitive
processing.  Their brains have not received the social and verbal stimulation
needed during the brain's critical periods of development.  The villains rounded
up for this impoverishment--broadcast TV, high-decibel rock music, the decline
of family nurturance, drugs--also include the new alphabet/image ratio I have
been discussing.  No one I know thinks the electronic universe will go away.  If
we are to understand the "literacy" it creates, we will have to school ourselves
in the work now being done by behavioral neuroscience, which teaches us how the
brain processes the various components of that new literacy.  Humanist inquiry
of all sorts depends on such an understanding.  Nothing less than human reason
itself stands at risk.  Electronic technology is driving the humanities toward
learning how our knowledge is organized at the neural level--the "sociology" of
neuroanatomy.  
Digital information drives the humanities toward behavioral biology as well as
toward behavioral neuroscience.  I must now make an argument essential if we are
to understand how digital information affects the sociology of humanist inquiry
--that is, the social matrix within which that inquiry proceeds.  But to do so,
I will have to use a very high compression ratio--about 100/1.  Bear with me.  
It is apparent, I think, to anyone who has worked in the computer world that the
spirit of play and game works there more strongly than it does in the world of
print.  We have to do here with a fundamental change in motivational balance. 
The three basic areas of human motivation--game, play, and purpose--are mixed in
different ways by different technologies.  The history of that mixture--genetic,
evolutionary, behavioral--is what behavioral biology studies.  As more and more
of our communications become digitally based, we will more and more need to
master a new mix of human motive.  The humanities come into vital play because
they exist to balance and remix human motive, to infuse the world of purpose
with the world of play and game.  Behavioral biology gives humanistic inquiry
its evolutionary history--a history we desperately need in order to understand
the new motivational mix that humanistic expression will now embody.  Thus, in
the effort to devise a new sociology of knowledge for digital communication,
electronic technology drives humanistic inquiry toward behavioral biology as
well as behavioral neuroscience.
As if this weren't difficult enough, we must confront a third area of inquiry
which the digital computer has made essential to humanistic inquiry:  chaos
theory.  Whatever else it may be, the new mixture of word, image, and sound that
digital communication brings with it will be radically nonlinear, associative,
discontinuous, interactive.  As postmodern art has predicted, such
communications procedures will depend heavily on scale-changes.  As it happens,
we now have a new way of thinking about such nonlinear systems of organization,
and especially about scale-changes.  It is called "chaos theory."  It may be,
according to this way of thinking, that the arts are nonlinear systems. 
Mandelbrot argues that the forms of visual art constitute one such system. 
Certainly if you are trying to write the intellectual history of a computer
network, you will have to use chaos theory to do it.  When we think about the
"organization" of anything in the world of digital communication, we will go
greatly astray if we apply to it Newtonian patterns of thought.  It is fatally
easy to do this.  We thus touch here a potential reorchestration of intellectual
history itself. 

For example, might the combination of electronic information resources with
interdisciplinary and multicultural scholarship affect the formal organization
of knowledge, whether in learned societies at the national level or in specific
departments on individual campuses?

We've pondered, in considering Jane Healy's work, whether electronic text
actually forms the brain in different ways from printed text.  Looking toward
the other Working Groups in this conference, might we not scale such a question
up to network level?  This reordering of how the brain is affected by verbal,
imagistic, and auditory input during its formative stages must model in little,
must it not, how we will communicate about the humanities at the digital-library
network level?  May it not be the case that the nature of scholarly
communication, of how we write and read about the humanities, as well as create
and socialize them, will be similarly altered?  That our scholarly communication
will mix words, images, and sounds in the same way that digital "artistic" texts
do?  Gregory Ulmer has written a provocative book on this subject.  He argues
that we must invent a new mode of scholarly conversation based on the new mix of
word and moving image.  Will not such a new mix inevitably become part of how
digital library networks process information?  Might scholarly communication
become iconic in ways never seen before?  It is fun to think about. 
Learned societies, like academic departments and at about the same time, were
formed as part of an academic specialization based on print communication.  They
started journals.  Now we have special interest groups communicating online.  Do
these SIGs not constitute the "learned societies" of the digital future?  Their
communication is already radically hypertextual--discontinuous, associative,
based on oral conversation rather than print.  SIGs are fissiparous.  They form
and re-form continually, work on the formative edge of interdisciplinary
inquiry.  They model, too, the way multicultural perspectives invade and
invigorate traditional professional specializations.  Print publication
encourages disciplinary differences by its very fixity and by the time-scale of
its scholarly interchange.  Computer-based "publication" works the other way,
encourages the mixture of fields, of perspectives, of "publication" channels,
which lies at the heart of both interdisciplinary and multicultural scholarship.
 Both the "national society" and the "national meeting" are more print-based
than we customarily think.  It seems unlikely that they will remain unchanged in
a digital universe. 

2.	How will undergraduate teaching be affected by the ready availability of
electronic information?

Let's start with the idea of a "class."  I'll use an example close to home, my
Shakespeare class.  I give it every year.  I always recommend additional reading
which the students never do.  Partly they are lazy, but partly they can't get to
the library, for they work at outside jobs for 20–30 hours a week and commute
from pillar to post.  Each year's class exists in a temporal, conceptual, and
social vacuum.  They don't know what previous classes have done before them. 
They don't know how other instructors teach their sections of the same class.
They seldom know each other before they take the class.  They never read each
other's work--though sometimes they appropriate it in felonious ways.  I read
all their work myself, and mark it up extensively, often to their dismay.  A few
of them take me up on my rewrite options but most don't, and hence don't learn
anything much from my revisions, since they are not made to take them into
account.  They thus have an audience they know, but it is a desperately narrow
one.  
Imagine what would happen were I to add an electronic library to this class. 
Students access it by modem or through a CD-ROM or whatever.  On it, they read
papers--good, bad, and indifferent--submitted in earlier sections on the topics
I suggest.  They read scholarly articles--good, bad, and indifferent--on these
same topics.  They read before-and-after examples of prose style revision.  A
revision program is available for them to use--licensed by me to UCLA, since it
depends on my own textbooks!  They can do searches of the Shakespearean texts,
also available online, when they study patterns of imagery, rhetorical
figuration, etc.  They can make Quicktime© movie excerpts from the videos of the
plays and use them to illustrate their papers.  (The papers will not be
"papers," of course,  but "texts" of a different sort.)  They needn't go to the
campus library to do any of this.  They can access this library wherever and
whenever they find time to do their academic work.  All their work--papers,
exams, stylistic analyses--is "published" in the electronic library.  You got a
"C" and feel robbed?  Read some "A" papers to see what went wrong.  Read some
other papers, just to see what kind of work your competitors are producing. 
Lots of other neat things happen in such a universe.  But you can fill in the
blanks yourself.  
Such a course--here is the vital point--now has a history.  Students join a
tradition.  It is easy to imagine how quickly the internets between such courses
would develop.  We can see a pattern in the hypertextual literary curriculum
developed by George Landow and his colleagues at Brown University.  The
isolation of the course, not only in time, but in discipline, is broken.  The
course constitutes a society, and it is a continuing one.  The students become
citizens of a commonwealth and act like citizens--they publish their work for
their fellow scholars.  The mesmeric fixation on the instructor as the only
reader and grader is broken. 
Now imagine another course--the independent study or "honors" course.  A student
in my Shakespeare course is interested in music and wonders what I mean when I
keep using analogies between musical ornament and verbal ornament.  When I talk
about sonata form vs. theme-and-variations in a lecture on the Sonnets, she
comes in and asks for a fuller explanation.  Could she do a special study with
me on this topic?  Well, I'm not a musicologist.  What do I do now?  "Next time
Prof. Winter teaches his Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven course, you ought to take
it."  I'm certainly not competent to teach such a course.  In a multimedia
environment, I'd pursue a different route.  "Sure, I'll do this course with you.
 We'll construct it around Winter's wonderful new multimedia programs on
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring , Mozart's Dissonant
String Quartet, and Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.  You can play them all on the
equipment in the music school or the library.  Using them, you can teach
yourself the fundamentals of music harmony, find out all you need to know about
classical sonata form, learn about what happened to music when sonata form no
longer predominated, and so on.  You can play these pieces' theme and motif at a
time, dissect them, learn how the orchestra is constructed, what the instruments
are, etc."  I am, with Winter's help, perfectly competent to teach such a
course.  Such a procedure not only generates new kinds of disciplinary
relationships; if used widely it would save money for both student and school. 
Now, the classroom itself.  The "electronic classrooms" in use now, at least the
ones which give each student a computer, have generated some preliminary
generalizations.  Just as "author" and "authority" change meaning in electronic
text, they change meaning in the classroom.  The professor ceases to be the
cynosure of every eye: some authority passes to the group constituted by the
electronic network.  You can of course use such a configuration for self-paced
learning, but I would use it for verbal analysis.  Multimedia environments allow
you to anatomize what "reading" a literary text really means.  This pedagogy
would revolutionize how I teach Shakespeare.  (Again, in suggesting how, I run
up against the difficulties of discussing a broadband medium with the 
narrowband one of print.) 
Now the textbook.  Let me take another example from my backyard.  Let us
consider the dreariest textbook of all, the Freshman Composition Handbook.  You
all know them.  Heavy.  Shiny coated paper.  Pyroxylin,
peanut-butter-sandwich-proof cover.  Imagine instead an online program available
to everyone who teaches, and everyone who takes, the course.  The apoplexy that
comp handbooks always generate now finds more than marginal expression.  Stupid
examples are critiqued as such; better ones are found.  Teachers contribute
their experience on how the book works, or doesn't work, in action.  The
textbook, rather than fixed in an edition, is a continually changing,
evolutionary document.  It is fed by all the people who use it, and continually
made and remade by them.  
And what about the literary texts themselves?  It is easy to imagine (copyright
problems aside) the classic literary texts all put on a single CD-ROM, and a
device to display them which the student carries with her.  What we don't often
remark is the manipulative power such a student now possesses.  Textual
searching power, obviously.  But also power to reconfigure.  Imagine for a
moment students brought up on the multimedia electronic "texts" I have been
discussing.  They are accustomed to interacting with texts, playing games with
them.  Won't they want to do this with Paradise Lost?  And what will happen if
they do?  Will poems written in a print-based world be compromised?  Will poems
which emerged from an oral world, as with so much Greek and Latin literature, be
rejuvenated and re-presented in a more historically correct way?  And what about
the student's license to re-create as well as read?  If Marcel Duchamp can
moustache the Mona Lisa, why can't they?  Once again, questions of cultural
authority.  
Now the "major."  If electronic text threatens the present disciplinary
boundaries in the humanities, it threatens the major in the same way.  I don't
have space to discuss this question now, but it is developed at length in The
Electronic Word, the book from which this paper draws its argument.  The major
is constructed, at least when it retains any disciplinary integrity, on a
hierarchical and historical basis.  Such means of organization and
dissemination, as we have seen, do not last long in a digital domain. 
Now the curriculum, or at least two words about it.  First, the debate about the
university curriculum has centered, in the last century, on what to do about a
"core" curriculum in a fragmented and disciplinary world.  Various "core
curricula" have been devised and, in some times and places, taken over the first
two--or even, at St. John's, all four--undergraduate years.  We have, in all
these programs, hearkened back to a linear course of study.  For all kinds of
reasons, practical and theoretical, such a pre-planned program has rarely
worked.  What digital networks suggest is a new core constituted hypertextually,
on a nonlinear basis.  None of the obstacles to the traditional core curriculum
apply.
Second, the current streetfight about the undergraduate curriculum--Great Books
or Politically Correct Books--ignores the probability that our "texts" won't be
books at all.  Both sides base their arguments on the fixity of print, and the
assumptions that fixity induces in us.  Thus they both, and the curricular
debate they generate, depart from obsolete, indeed otiose, operating principles.

3.	Will graduate training change as graduate students become more adept at using
electronic tools?

This is the wrong question.  It presumes, as do many of the questions framed for
this conference, that digital communications changes our tools but not our
products.  In framing the proper question, and an answer to it, I'll stick again
to my own backyard.  The crucial question for graduate training in literature is
not whether students will become skillful in online searches and database
manipulations, important though that is.  We should be asking rather whether the
subject they study will continue to exist.  I taught a graduate seminar last
year called "The Death of Literature."  The class took its name from Alvin
Kernan's recent book, wherein he argues that electronic communication, with some
help from theory, is killing literature, at least print-based literature.  The
class considered three other new books that, in very different ways, debated the
same proposition.  I myself don't think literature will die, but clearly it will
change as it moves from page to screen.  Graduate programs in English ought to
be considering that movement.  I know of none that does.  Even as we are
conducting "literacy" campaigns based on a print-based literacy which is, as
Hardison argues, disappearing up the skylight, so we are educating graduate
students to read and teach literature in the same print-based way in which
literature will no longer be written or read.  We are indeed, to borrow Charles
Horton Cooley's wonderful phrase for ossified instruction, educating "clerks of
a forgotten mood."
I cannot help thinking that the same thing is happening in other fields of
humanistic inquiry.  It certainly seems to be so in music and the fine arts. 
Surely someone ought at least to be talking about this vital metamorphosis.

4.	Conclusion 
When we speak of the "sociology of knowledge," we ponder how knowledge is held. 
I think that matrix of cultural grasp which such a phrase seeks to describe, at
least for the humanities, is now dominated by three convergent forces: 
technology, theory, and democracy.  Technology--digital communications
technology--we have now considered.  "Theory"--by which I mean the postmodern
critique, whether pursued in literary studies, art history, linguistics, or the
law--lies outside our present discussion, though it informs it at every point. 
(I have, after all, argued that the aesthetics of electronic expression were
laid out by twentieth-century visual art before the computer was invented.) 
What of democracy?  Clearly higher education has been democratized in the United
States since World War II.  We need not debate that.  Does electronic technology
constitute an exclusionary force, as many people now argue?  Certainly in some
ways it does.  Inner-city schools have fewer computers than Andover and Exeter. 
Colleges and universities vary widely in their computer resources and their
dissemination. But in the long run, indeed in the short run too, I would argue, 
digital technology democratizes the arts and letters, rather than the reverse. 
Simply by opening discourse out from a strictly verbal base, it enfranchises not
only the left-handed but the right-brained of all sorts.  It will have, in my
field, an extraordinary impact on what we still call "remedial" training.  It
opens out both artistic composition and performance to people formerly excluded
from it, and it has enormously expanded the audience for artistic and learned
expression of all sorts.  Our discussion of the "access" question has been far
too narrowly based, and far too unimaginative. 
When I read down the list of the participants in this conference a few
spear-carriers like me turn up, but most of you are movers, shakers, and
decision-makers.  How, you may well ask, does such theorizing as I have been
doing affect your daily decision-making life? Here is a quick list of some
decisions which, according to the arguments posed in this paper, are affected by
the digitization of the humanities.The fundamental change in operating system
which the humanities are now undergoing

•	affects libraries because it affects books, and in the most intimate way.
•	affects, therefore, library buildings and the budgets thereof.
•	affects all the issues of intellectual property.
•	affects professional specializations and departmental structures, and
therefore university administrative structures at all levels. 
•	affects "access" in all its aspects, especially in the most profound ones,
access to creation and performance of humanistic works, as well as learning
about them. 
•	affects "literacy," literacy programs, and every social impact they exert. 
•	affects the neural pathways of the brain, and how they are being irreversibly
laid down; thus it affects whether students will be able to pursue any
intellectual work which requires the higher processes of symbolic thought.  
•	affects a "class" and how it works. 
•	affects what a "classroom" is and how it works. 
•	affects what a "textbook" is and how it works. 
•	affects the undergraduate "major."
•	affects what the undergraduate curriculum will become.
•	affects what traditional graduate disciplines will study as well as how they
will study it. 

In The Aims of Education, Whitehead argues that higher education should always
be concerned with "the insistent present."  This list constitutes a pretty
insistent present, it seems to me.  I've tried to sketch out a theoretical
context to explain or at least contain the items on it, but there is nothing
theoretical about the list itself. 
So hard does the current budget crisis press upon universities that many
participants will come to this conference, I suspect, like so many cancer
surgeons fresh from the operating table.  Cut. Cut. Cut.  What does this change
in the humanistic operating system have to do with all this surgery?  Let me
close by suggesting a connection. 
When you talk about digital technology, someone will always dismiss it as
"futuristic."  None of the technology I have talked about is futuristic.  It all
exists now.  It is the cutting that involves planning for the future.  Why not
use the occasion for some long-term planning in terms of this new operating
system for the humanities we have been discussing?  The planning I read about at
my own institution and others like it amounts to keeping on the same way, with
as few changes as possible.  Review departments, drop the weak ones--but don't
rethink what a department is.  Ditto "programs."  Review majors, drop the weak
or obscure ones, but don't rethink what a "major" is.  Review courses, cut out
frivolous and ornamental ones, but don't rethink what a "course" is.  Ditto
graduate programs.  Nothing new or promising can emerge from any of this
fire-fighting.
The short-term approach--how do I keep on doing what I have been doing in the
ways I have been doing it, but with much less money?--hasn't worked for the rest
of American enterprise.  Why should it work for us?  It has all been done over
and over in America in the last two decades, in the automobile industry, the
steel industry, the railroads, the farm machinery business--the list goes on and
on.  Department stores are worrying about which departments to phase out while
the traditional idea of a department store is drifting down the stream of
mercantile history.  In the academy we are prisoners of the same inert patterns
of thinking that have dominated the rest of American corporate enterprise. 
There is nothing "futuristic" about trying to break out of these patterns; it is
the most insistent present one can possibly imagine.  It will be our own fault,
not the fault of our funders, if we continue to imitate the Post Office and
worry about moving letters around in an electronic way, when it is not only the
delivery system but the "letters" themselves which have fundamentally changed.

The arguments in this paper are drawn from

The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts, forthcoming from the 
University of Chicago Press, 1993.

O. B. Hardison, Disappearing Through the Skylight: Culture and Technology in the
Twentieth Century (Penguin Books, 1989), p. 264.

Jay David Bolter, Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of
Writing (Earlbaum Associates, 1991).

Howard Rheingold, Virtual Reality: The Revolutionary Technology of
Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds  (Summit, 1991).

Jane Healy, Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think and What We Can Do About
It (Simon & Schuster, 1990).

James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science (Viking, 1987).

Gregory Ulmer, Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video (Routledge, 1989).

George Landow, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and
Technology (Johns Hopkins, 1992). See footnote 1.

Alvin Kernan, The Death of Literature (Yale, 1990).

Back to the Cyberculture Archive