Matt Kirschenbaum has uploaded a really smart essay challenging the common notion of electronic text as impermanent or less stable than the printed word. He argues that the physical trace evidence of supposedly erased data force us to question the prevailing mental models of electronic text and also suggest a range of skills that will be needed of future bibliographers. Can’t wait for his book.

Combine this mode of investigation with the “literary forensics” popularized by people like Donald Foster and the potential for a completely new field of inquiry in new media opens up. The opportunity for a meaningful digital paleography arises precisely because electronic documents are considered so volatile and impermanent; rarely is the effort expended to truly expunge unwanted data. Somewhat boggling (and exciting) to consider what lies undiscovered at the level of the magnetic dipoles.

One response to “Remanence”

  1. Matt K. says :

    Thanks for the enthusiasm, John!