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Barthes and networks, not to speak of hypertext…

September 19, 2012

One of the fun things about writing a blog is that you get to look at Roger’s (and many others’) blog entries and just follow your proverbial nose. You click on one link, then on another, and then go back or keep going and just lose yourself in the maze or network or meanderings of the blogosphere. Happily, searchingly, intrigued and on occasion enchanted or provoked. And you realize how much stuff there is that makes your brain stay awake way beyond its bed time. And you keep going…

Of course Barthes designed Wikipedia (just like Marcel Duchamp is still alive, but that’s my own private joke). Barthes envisioned it in S/Z, as George Landow (who really should know) reminds us:

the networks [réseaux ] are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . . ; the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language” (emphasis in original; 5-6 [English translation]; 11-12 [French]).

But then, how far back do we want to take that connection between text and network? Which text ISN’T a network? Florian Cramer, for instance, begins his blog entry with Borges and ends with creativity. Then again, Cramer’s work becomes much more interesting if we rephrase the question: how deep do we want that connection to go? You may find one answer in his intriguing Words Made Flesh – not a blog entry. And he has yet entirely different ideas about Wikipedia.

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One comment

  1. I must read more Florian Cramer! That post about Words Made Flesh is just wonderful. What I love to say especially to parents of gamers is that culture has become more obviously game-like since the advent of digital information-flows; I think it applies equally to texts becoming more obviously networked; so I guess that means Plato designed Wikipedia, too–in the Phaedrus.



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