Writing to be Found and Writing Readers

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Poetic writing for programmable and network media seems to have been captivated by the affordances of new media and questions of whether or not and if so, how certain novel, media-constituted properties and methods of literary objects require us to reassess and reconfigure the literary itself. What if we shift our attention decidedly to practices, processes, procedures — towards ways of writing and ways of reading rather than dwelling on either textual artifacts themselves (even time-based literary objects) or the concepts underpinning objects-as-artifact? What else can we do, given that we must now write on, for, and with the net which is itself no object but a seething mass of manifold processes?

Part one of the essay presents a brief analysis of recent experiments in "writing to be found" with Google, making some claim that such writing may be exemplary, that its aesthetic and conceptual engagements are distinct, and that there is something at stake here for "the literary" or rather for certain practices of literary art. After very brief discussion in part two of some broader implications of writing with the Google corpus and its tools, part three addresses more examples of writing to be found, and introduces a collaboration with Daniel Howe, The Readers Project, many processes of which engage with "writing to be found" "in" Google and making use of its tools.

(Source: author's abstract)

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This knowledge was mined iteratively from the language that we all gave over and continue to give over to Google and, in so far as Google was uninterested in or threatened by the queries we needed to make in order to gather our readers’ simple knowledge, that knowledge is the result of a fascinating struggle that – for this reader at least – is a model in micro-procedure of the struggles that we must all undertake as our institutions of culture pass over their care and disposition to all those strange engines of inquiry that may suddenly reject our search for writing.

One very significant reason to continue to work in this way is precisely to reveal how Google and other similar agencies will reform what they pretend to enable, and how our existing institutions that support writing as a cultural practice will relate to the profound reformations that must ensue.

We hand over our culture to Google in exchange for unprecedented and free access to that culture. We do this all but unconscious of the fact that it will be Google that defines what "unprecedented" and "free" ultimately imply.[9] As yet, we hardly seem to acknowledge the fact that this agreement means that it is Google that reflects our culture back to us.

Google had temporally denied my originality, my authority. It had changed the shape of my authorial persona. I wasn’t writing with it. It was writing with me, against me, withholding what I thought I had inscribed.

Getting to know Google better, in a practical sense, as a collaborator, is one of the most interesting results to emerge from even the relatively simple and preliminary processes that have been set in train.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen