Guide Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT Press)

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Apr 11, Audrey rated it really liked it Shelves: graduate-school , non-fiction. I was leary when I first started, on account of the for me immensely technical nature of the first couple of chapters, but I found the book as a whole very interesting.

The book's primary shortcoming is, I think, unavoidable. It certainly succeeds at bringing the material realities of electronic texts into the larger textual studies conversation, but that achievement comes with a great deal of internal tension. Kirschenbaum's subject matter requires him to discuss a lot of subject matter the t I was leary when I first started, on account of the for me immensely technical nature of the first couple of chapters, but I found the book as a whole very interesting.

Kirschenbaum's subject matter requires him to discuss a lot of subject matter the technicalities of magnetic encoding technologies, usage of a hex editor, the binary coding behind the ASCII character set, etc. His arguments have to assume a certain level of technological knowledge. Yet, his book is directed primarily at an audience of English professors. He makes some valiant attempts at explaining things without becoming a primer on programming, but, as a liberal arts person, I still found myself confused a lot of the time.

I understand the basic principal that all things electronic also have a physical dimension, but the finer points of the discussion were lost on me. Periodically, there would be a screen shot of, for example, Mystery House opened in a hex editor. A long string of unintelligible symbols.

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Not that I understand what, exactly, it is that a hex editor does. But at least I know that they exist and are vaguely connected with underlying code. Overall, Mechanisms has its frustrations besides the technical terms, I'm convinced it could have lost pages without suffering much ill effect , but it also has plenty of interesting things to say. This is an important book.

Instead of complicating the writing process by understanding it in terms of larger material contexts which is incredibly powerful and useful , Kirschenbaum offers a strategy for material analysis that drills down into the technology itself, focusing on data storage, material persistence, and interface opacity.


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  8. I'm using this book as part of my lit review to carve out some space that allows for discussion of digital writing as a "material" practice, as opposed to a "vi This is an important book. I'm using this book as part of my lit review to carve out some space that allows for discussion of digital writing as a "material" practice, as opposed to a "virtual" one.

    Oct 13, Ramona rated it it was amazing Shelves: sep-dec An excellent book for anyone interested in technology or computers. The author obviously loves both and is very good at describing them. In addition, the topic of electronic text is not addressed enough in the literature of today, this is an essential addition to any collection that considers modern media in print.

    Sep 17, Erik is currently reading it Shelves: digital-humanities , to-read-short-list , re-reading , owned.

    Mechanisms : Matthew G. Kirschenbaum :

    I've read parts of this book, but I'm looking to go back over and fill in the gaps in my understanding and memory. Aug 23, John rated it really liked it. Erudite, rich, varied, deep. An exemplary digital history. Apr 11, Chris rated it liked it. More technical and drawn out than what I would normally turn to, but fun to learn about the mechanisms of the hard drive. Eric Cartier rated it really liked it Jun 29, Deidre rated it really liked it Dec 01, Matt Voigts rated it it was amazing Oct 03, Kyle rated it it was amazing Sep 16, Christo rated it it was amazing Oct 14, Joshua rated it really liked it Mar 11, To prove his point, and in this he succeeds very well, the author returns to the era roughly covered by the interval , which serves to measure the conceptual distance generated by the mere difference in technologies.

    The dematerialization is not only a digital media problem. It is also a widely unacknowledged aspect of print literature.

    Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination

    This is the second point when the author proves that his perspective is unbiased by any essentialist claims. He does not feel the need to oppose the digital realm to the printed one. After all, no matter how much one may criticize the focus on the screen output, it is for this level that the digital product is built as a rule. Reading the other levels is a work for the specialist. The answers vary according to each text. This is similar to the marginal notes that readers usually leave on the printed books, which represent an important source of information for the literary studies focused on reading practices.

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    This is not far from what in print literary studies is called genetic reading. As for the last extensively analyzed example — W. After reading Mechanisms , I can make a guess as to what partly prompted Johanna Drucker to conclude her review of the book with the assertion that generated a lot of debate concerning the existence of valuable examples of electronic literature.