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Is There Anything It Is Like To Be a Text?
Joris J. van Zundert ✽
Tara L. Andrews †
Iian D. Neill ✢
Andreas Kuczera ✢
✽ Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
✢ Digitale Akademie der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz
† Digital Humanities, Institute for History
University of Vienna
DH 2019 · Utrecht University · Utrecht, The Netherlands · 10-12 July 2019
Is There Anything It Is Like To Be a Text?
“For us this question serves to displace an understanding of digital text as an inanimate series of electronic signs with an understanding of text as a more dynamic and interactive agent. Being a text in a digital environment involves formal complexities and computational procedural elements that are alien to print or manuscript text. Furthermore, being digital allows a text to transgress the boundaries of the document and to connect to other texts and information in ways that reify connections usually only present in human cognition. Lastly there is an element of code to the existence of text in the digital environment. Software code is text’s animated computational twin. Text will often interact with code, to the point of symbiosis. Our use cases demonstrate these properties of digital text.”
  • Digital texts are not print texts
  • But there is still a sort of blind spot concerning their ontological difference in textual scholarship
  • And we still lack a proper understanding of the hermeneutics that digital text affords, requires, and deserves
  • Which is important to understand them as epistemological tools
  • I claim that reading OO models and graph models as text exposes these affordances and that skeuomorphic digital scholarly editions do not
  • And that these models provide a non-reductive computational hermeneutic approach
  • Which means there is an awful lot of important work to be done in programming scholarly digital editions
The Small Print
Otherwise Known as Disclaimer
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Images in this presentation where derived from the following sources…

Carta compilada and transcription:
Man eReading:
Woman eReading:
Einstein lossy:
Walking with Whitman:
Screw and nail:
Ted Nelson:
Paul N. Edwards:
Barbara Bordalejo:
Elena Pierazzo:
Bridge illusion:
Zebra illusion 1:
Zebra illusion 2:
Through the screen:
Binary clock: