In the reflection on new media, this book is undoubtedly a watershed publication. Its basic stance is that electronic writing can only be understood if we accept to consider it a real form of writing, i.e. of material inscriptions on material surfaces, and therefore to leave behind many of the myths that surround digital culture.
What makes Kirschenbaum’s work so thrilling and innovative is, however, not only the demonstration that electronic writing is also a way of writing, even if the computer is a machine meant to withdraw its own material operations from our attention [. . .] At least as important is the humanist viewpoint defended by the author [. . .] In his book, Kirschenbaum uses forensics as a tool to think of electronic writing as a chain of contacts which are never materially lost, while at the same time insisting on the fact that it is much more than just a sequencing of inscriptions on a hard disk (of on other types of surfaces, although the hard disk has now become the dominating form).
Mechanisms, which opens totally new grounds for electronic textual scholarship, will be one of the books that can redefine what it means to be a digerate.
Wow. It's an amazingly generous review, but also very detailed. I'm floored.