The Work of a Book in a Digital Age
Why write a book in an era obsessed with net-
worked digital communication? There are per-
sonal, professional, and cultural reasons. I’ll leave
the personal reasons for last. For humanists, the book re-
mains the privileged signifier of academic credibility. Curi-
ously, the value of the book as a testimony to scholarly
trustworthiness is not due to the size of the audience it
reaches immediately, which is likely to be smaller than the
other forms of technological media, such as the museum
exhibits and websites that I have discussed in this project.
Rather, its value is tied to its particular affordances that allow
for the expression of complex explanations of abstract ideas
and of critical analyses of particular texts, applications, and
situations. I am interested in how the book functions in
relation to new modes of dynamic knowledge production,
and to new forms of cultural experience that are occasioned
by the use of digital networks. While I understand how I
might communicate the insights that emerge from a critical
analysis of an interactive application, it is less clear how I
might convey, in print, the way in which these insights might
be used to redesign an application differently. As one last
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