Saturday, December 18, 2010

CLIR Digital Forensics Report Out

Forensics ReportI'm very happy to announce the availability of Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, a new CLIR report emerging from the Mellon-sponsored workshop on the same topic held last spring here at the University of Maryland. The report (written by myself, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine, with research assistance from Rachel Donahue) introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is available electronically at Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR's Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2nd DHQ Review

Mechanisms is extremely fortunate to be the recipient of a 2nd review in Digital Humanities Quarterly. After Johanna Drucker called the book "an exemplary demonstration of scholarly method for the emerging field of digital media studies" in issue 3.2, Manuel Portela now reviews Mechanisms alongside of Kate Hayles's Electronic Literature in a review essay entitled "The Machine in the Text, and the Text in the Machine."

Portela is interested throughout in the overlapping network topologies of digital technologies and online reading environments on the one hand, and the material histories of writing, computing, and inscription that attend textual production across various media. Here is how he concludes:
Hayles’s and Kirschenbaum’s new books offer critically rigorous, intellectually provocative, and highly productive perspectives on new media literary objects. Their technical, sociotextual, and interpretive analyses raise our critical awareness of the specifics of digital materiality and electronic literature to a new theoretical and analytical level. Hayles’s readings of electronic works are exemplary in the way they relate electronic performability to interpretability. Using tropes such as "recursive dynamics," "intelligent machines" and "emergent cognition," she has tried to capture the embodied nature of technology and the distributed nature of subjectivity in human-computer interactions. Kirshenbaum’s approach, in turn, opens up electronic objects to textual criticism, extending the genetic and social text approach of the last two decades to digitally born artifacts. He offers a critically nuanced and technically rigorous description of the multiple layers of formal and forensic materiality, and stresses their interdependence. Taken together, the "electronic" in Electronic Literature and the "mechanism" in Mechanisms clearly resonate in the way they both attempt to link the deep level of machine code to the formal level of textual and metatextual code to the social level of cultural code. The machine in the text and the text in the machine — quintessential expressions of our present postmodern technotextual condition — are now more fully conceptualized in their technical, aesthetic, and social materialities.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hyperrhiz Review

Dene Grigar has a generous and very well done review of Mechanisms out in Hyperrhiz, as part of a special issue on New Media Subversions:
Stepping back, we can see that Mechanisms is an important book, but not only for the obvious reasons. Yes, it offers the conclusive evidence, the smoking gun (guns since there are three of them), that we have need for talking about the materiality of digital texts. Yes, the book contributes to the growing body of scholarship on platform studies and introduces the study of forensics to digital media. But most importantly, it offers the philosophical and methodological framework needed to grow the field, for it helps to move the humanities toward a renaissance of close reading and textual study, revitalizing it and providing it a strong central practice. Mechanisms is a must read for all of us working in digital media who wonder where it is headed and where it needs to go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


This amazing hard disk coffee table, fashioned from a 26-inch CDC platter.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Eliza Deac offers a concise but very well articulated review of Mechanisms on the group netpoetic blog.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


More hard drive-based art: Infodecodata has issued an open call for participants to generate treemap images of their hard drives using their Sequoia visualization software and upload them to an online exhibition gallery.

There is a clear lineage here that includes Carlo Zanni's You Are Your C (see below), Mary Flanagan's Phage and Cory Arcangel's Data Diaries, all discussed in Mechanisms.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Endless Nameless

Somewhere in Mechanisms I suggest that the hard drive has been under-utilized as a platform (in its own right) for digital art. I mention a couple of pieces like "Your Are Your C" by Carlo Zanni, and speculate that we will see more.

From Danny Snelson comes word of "Endless Nameless," a collaborative project that involves stocking used hard drives with data assemblages and selling them, iTunes-like, for .99/GB:
Endless Nameless presents a double articulation of popular data trafficking along with the material histories of our digitally dislocated artifacts. Cataloging this 'nude media' by original source, the book loops these distribution circuits in a nostalgic allegory of publication: celebrating the publishers while disseminating huge amounts of unsanctioned information.

I like it. I just can't afford it.