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Statement of Purpose

John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Blog Triumphalism, Redux.

Posted by Tedra Osell, Guest Author, on 02/06/07 at 11:54 AM

Hi y’all.  Holbo and Kaufman and Singh, bloggy friends all, asked me at the MLA why I wasn’t posting at the Valve?  “No one’s asked me to,” I said.  “We didn’t think you’d be interested,” they replied.  Since I’m all about writing as much as possible that isn’t “real” academic writing, I berated them for their (lack of?) presumption, told them they were all sexist, and made them sign me up for a stint as a guest poster. 

It’s possible some of you reading this may know me under a different name, but for the sake of intellectual coherence--an author-function is not the same thing as a writer, as we all know--I, Tedra Osell, am not that other person, and we shan’t talk about her.  Until and unless I decide to address the author-function issue, which will probably happen sooner rather than later, since poking at murky water to see what comes up is a favorite occupation of mine.

We’ll see if anyone wants me to stick around after an introduction like that.  To start with, though, a tame, but interesting, news item.

Apparently the oldest title still in (continuous) circulation has just left off printing entirely, becoming a purely online publication. I don’t read Swedish, so I can’t decipher a word of the thing, although “logga in” is both obvious and, to anglophone ears, funny.

Poor Hans Holm, the paper’s editor for twenty years, thinks it’s “a cultural disaster.” I think it’s fabulous. A readership of a thousand people was huge three hundred years ago; now it’s miniscule by newspaper standards. If the most important effect of print culture was its democratizing potential (answer: yes), then online publication--cheap, self-archiving, and available worldwide--expands the project exponentially.

I’ma cross-post this at The Long 18th.


Comments

You do know that besides founding the newspaper, Queen Kristina killed Descartes, don’t you?

And what kind of name is Tedra, anyway?

By John Emerson on 02/06/07 at 05:21 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"Self-archiving” is always a question, though.  I’d guess that in twenty years, it may be a lot easier to find the last paper copies of Post-och Inrikes Tidningar than it will be to find their first Web versions.

By on 02/06/07 at 05:39 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Rich, agreed; the problem of continued technological access is an open question.  On the other hand, html is merely another language (like all programming languages); if we lose the ability to read Swedish, the papers’ content is lost to us as surely as if we lose the ability to ‘read’ html. 

John, it’s a dirty hippie name.

By on 02/06/07 at 07:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I was poking around in the Dead Media Project, looking for some dimly remembered Internet archiving story, and found the following Bruce Sterling quote:

“Why *should* the Internet become a ‘serious publishing system?’ Who will give way first? Will the Internet somehow become a scholarly archive, or will scholarly archives become troves of uncatalogable spam and gibberish?”

In any case, the short-term problem isn’t so much people forgetting HTML—there are already some early markup systems that have gone dead, but HTML is widespread enough so it seems unlikely—but that if no one pays for disk drives and bandwidth, things on the Internet go away, while paper just sits there.  Who knows what the chances of the Wayback Machine going down are, over any particular period of time—the way that the Internet makes it possible to centralize the service so that there’s one main archiver may make it paradoxically more vulnerable.

Anyway, enough cranky-librarian stuff; the archiving concern certainly doesn’t outweigh the rest of the good things.

By on 02/06/07 at 09:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

You are the resident freelance librarian, after all.

By Scott Eric Kaufman on 02/06/07 at 09:11 PM | Permanent link to this comment

if no one pays for disk drives and bandwidth, things on the Internet go away, while paper just sits there.

The flip side of this (and I’m just arguing for the sake of doing so--I’m a fan of paper archives myself.  Although that’s largely because reproducing paper through microfilming or whatever doesn’t do a decent job, whereas things written expressly for online publication, that’s not an issue) is the cost of storage.  Paper sits there, but it does need to sit somewhere reasonably dry and windproof.

By on 02/06/07 at 09:16 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Also, welcome to the Valve!  Enjoy the hatred soon to be ladled upon you by stranger and friend alike.  (First comes the criticism, then the <a href=http://jdeanicite.typepad.com/i_cite/2007/02/leaky_pipes_and.html#comment-28720863">self-congratulatory encouragement</a>, then the...well, at that point, the annoyance, but that’ll pretty much be all yours.)

By Scott Eric Kaufman on 02/06/07 at 09:16 PM | Permanent link to this comment

That said though, noted: post sometime about the archive issue.  That’ll surely be the most popular post on the internets, EVAH.

By on 02/06/07 at 09:17 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Does the ToS know about this happy event.

By John Emerson on 02/06/07 at 09:35 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Ah, the smell of revisionism in the morning. The truth is, I only invited her because I THOUGHT she said the Valve was SEXY.

By John Holbo on 02/06/07 at 09:37 PM | Permanent link to this comment

The paper/bandwidth distinction may seem to shoot Hawthorne as <a href="http://citizense.blogspot.com/2007/01/what-would-hawthorne-say-about-gender.html">blogger arguments to pieces, but as any good comic collector knows, and as Hawthorne bemoans in “The Custom-House” (and as Hawthorne scholars who curse his friends for burning his letters to them bemoan), paper ain’t permanent.  Were the Maya Codexes on paper?  They burned, either way.  What archiving means in a digital medium is the subject of “serious scholarly inquiry,” as they say.  But why talk about that when we could talk about Snow Crash and Almanac of the Dead!  I vote for the latter--especially b/c the former is well outside any of my specialties and I’m no longer plugged into personal networks with those for who it is--unless of course those in the former care to share.

By The Constructivist on 02/06/07 at 09:57 PM | Permanent link to this comment

John, shut your mouth.

Scott, I have Officially Promised Not To Be a Bitch.

By on 02/06/07 at 10:01 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Paper isn’t permanent, but some of any kind of widely scattered physical storage medium always survives.  There are still something like 600 quipu left, after all.  Which means that the most likely longest-lived thing to survive from our digital era, assuming some high-tech way of recovering the magnetic domains, is a disk copy of America Online.  I’d put money on that over the Hubbard lectures, which clearly some schismatics are going to dig up and destroy in a few centuries, or the Voyager Golden Record, which no one is going to be able to find.

By on 02/06/07 at 10:43 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Tedra, welcome! This answers an age-old question: where do we go on the Web for legal announcements by corporations, courts and certain government agencies? I put it on my RSS feeder, wondering what Queen Kristina would have thought, but over 1,500 such announcements a day proved even harder to manage than “Overheard In New York”.

By Joseph Kugelmass on 02/06/07 at 10:48 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Don’t talk to Holbo that way, Miss Tedra.

I guess I’ll just repeat my usual computer sermon here: why doesn’t the IT world care about stability and reliability? Why don’t safe ways of storing data have a high priority on the industry’s to-do list? Why has every single goddamn highly-caffeinated can-do go-getter tech person I have ever asked explained “Computers are very complicated and have mechanical parts” when I asked them why their trillion-dollar industry can’t store data safely at any level, not even the Google level?

Toyota Computer. The non-General Motors computer. The computer that works. The computer that you can rely on. The computer of the future. The computer of the very far future. The computer of the after-we’re-all-dead future.

By John Emerson on 02/06/07 at 10:53 PM | Permanent link to this comment

That Descartes thing always pissed me off.  When they have time travel, I’m going back in time and killing Queen Kristina, not Hitler.

By on 02/06/07 at 11:29 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I was speaking to you, oh he who summons those who should not be summoned.  Mr. Emerson.

By on 02/07/07 at 02:51 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Tedra, as long as my power to call spirits from the vasty deep is treated with due respect, I’m easy to get along ith.

By John Emerson on 02/07/07 at 09:38 AM | Permanent link to this comment

All I know is if he shows up, I’m so going to give him your address.

By on 02/07/07 at 11:26 AM | Permanent link to this comment

T., he’s a regular on my site by now. He’s often quite interesting, but then he goes off on tangents.

It’s a sacrifice I make for the rest of you. That, and I’m befriending him in case someday I need him to take someone out.

You mean my home address? Small Minnesota towns are very hard to infiltrate, and who would want to?

By John Emerson on 02/07/07 at 11:36 AM | Permanent link to this comment

But, Walt, then we wouldn’t have had the Garbo movie.  Anyway, it’s just a story that teachers tell students.  Cold weather and getting up early won’t actually kill you, even if it sometimes feels like they might.

By on 02/07/07 at 01:58 PM | Permanent link to this comment

That’s what they’d have you believe, Walt. Descartes died of sexual exhaustion.

By John Emerson on 02/07/07 at 02:04 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I mean Mike.

By John Emerson on 02/07/07 at 02:04 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Tedra, Valkommen.

(See, we all just learned another word in Swedish)

By Amardeep Singh on 02/07/07 at 11:44 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Welcome to side six. Follow along in your books, and repeat after me, as we learn three new words in Turkish: Coffee. Delight. Border. May I see your passport, please?

By nnyhav on 02/08/07 at 10:10 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Having worked in the marketing division of a large computer company, I feel fairly confident that the answer to the question, “why doesn’t the IT world care about stability and reliability?" is that those things aren’t sexy, and don’t sell like hotcakes.  High-end computing sales (which we know drives production) is all about looking forward to the next big thing, and reliable storage, while surely the most important issue in high-end computing, is the least sexy, and therefore the hardest to get tech-ignorant CIOs (which is not all of them, of course) willing to shell out the big bucks for.

So we’re left debating the scholarly implications of flammable paper versus erasable code.

And I’ve just realized I’m responding to a long-since cold thread, so now I will say Hey to Tedra, and go on my way.

By Horace on 02/16/07 at 03:18 PM | Permanent link to this comment

The Valve:
This is a wonderful site.  Very classy.  With some brains to it.  I found it while pursuing “three new words in Turkish.” Long live the Firesign Theatre.  By the way, the Firesign Theatre used to have a radio show on KPFK FM, a Pacifica station out of LA.  Also, Steve G had a 2-human show, for a short time, with his significant other(?) on KPFK.  They went by very strange nom-de-radio’s.  And local theatres ran Firesign shows sometimes.  Does anybody have copies of the KPFK radio shows, the 2-human shows, or the Firesign Theatre plays? 
Viva Nick Danger!
I’ll have a few comments on preserving paper later.

By on 01/19/08 at 11:19 AM | Permanent link to this comment

OOOPS! Correction
The Valve:
This is a wonderful site.  Very classy.  With some brains to it.  I found it while pursuing “three new words in Turkish.” Long live the Firesign Theatre.  By the way, the Firesign Theatre used to have a radio show on KPFK FM, a Pacifica station out of LA.  Also, Steve G {OOPS!! Should be Peter Bergman} had a 2-human show, for a short time, with his significant other(?) on KPFK.  They went by very strange nom-de-radio’s.  And local theatres ran Firesign shows sometimes.  Does anybody have copies of the KPFK radio shows, the 2-human shows, or the Firesign Theatre plays? 
Viva Nick Danger!
I’ll have a few comments on preserving paper later.

By on 01/19/08 at 12:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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