19.413 VR scholarly editions

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 07:41:53 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 413.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 07:37:11 +0000
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: Editions of VR Simulations


   Inspired by Wendell's labelling of your VR & the edition question as a
   thought experiment, I suggest taking it up from the edition rather than
   the VR end. I want to avoid formulating the question where a VR rendition
   is considered as an edition (or not) of some other rendering of a text. I
   want to begin with the question of 'edition' with the echo of the
   what-is-a-text burden still in my ears.

   Let us alter the thought experiment slightly. Consider large print.
   Intended for those with difficulty reading small print such formats are
   found in many community libraries. In the book trade such print runs are
   considered editions. The page numbering is likely to differ from the small
   print edition. As well the leading may be different. One however expects
   that when observing the object in toto that the ratio between printed
   characters and paper material is the same for both large and small print
   editions, e.g. the half-way mark for the 100 page small print is at 50 and
   for the 200 page large print at 100. Reading either edition produces the
   same logical form. An identical picture is produced in the mind.

   Of course my reading of War and Peace is not Wendell's, is not Willard's.
   A reading or an interpretation is about the traversal of a textual space.
   [See the work of Aarseth Espen in _Cybertext_.] What is produced by a
   reading or traversal is a world. We discuss worlds with each other by the
   exchange of pictures. Pictures too can be traversed.

   It is sometimes tempting to take recursive functions to be time machines.
   I think that was partially at play in the presentation of the VR
   atmospherics example. There was a past looking orientation to the framing
   of the VR & the edition question. There was a hermeneutics of nostalgia or
   at the very least an attempt to asymtopically approach an origin.

   An edition is a forward looking thing. It is designed to be copied.

   I am not sure about the temporality of a VR simulation. The performance
   has a presentness to it.

   Musical score is an edition. Recorded performance of a musical composition
   is potentially an edition not of the musical composition but of a
   performance of that musical composition. The recording can be copied.

   Sampled, remixed: derivative works.

   The question is not so much perhaps is or is not a VR embedded textual
   object along with the scripts and instructions for its display and playing
   an "edition". The question is not one of ontology. It is one of axiology.
   What value does an edition have in a world where textual objects are more
   fungible than they have been in the past. For those who think that the
   textual objects in an oral culture are equally fungible consider the aural
   limits imposed on text processing in such a culture for the storage and
   retrieval of the recombinable elements.

   Machine manipulation of text can contribute to a proliferation of =D2state=
   or data objects. Which one=D5s are to be accorded lasting value? Textual
   manipulation of machines does contribute to a blossoming of sets of
   instructions not only for contributing to the proliferatin of states but
   also for the purging of data objects. Instructions help assess value. In
   one sense, they press value in.

   Given the play with instructions and states made possible by the encounter
   of machines and texts, how like a game is an edition? That is likely an
   ontologically misplaced question.

   If an edition is a textual object made to be copied, what are the games
   that can be played with it? Vertigo. Alea. Agon. Mimicry. A very musical
   set of games.

   How like an improvisation! Score.

   So, in short, a record becomes an edition when it is approached with
   game-like behaviour.

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

~~~ to be surprised by machines: wistly and sometimes wistfully
Received on Fri Nov 11 2005 - 02:56:22 EST

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