Monday, 8 October 2012

Prove Your Own Point by Doing. It. Wrong.

From Martin Foys:

I spent  seven years working on the Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition (BTDE), working through a lot of ideas about how  a New Media format helped free the presentation of this uber-long textile from the practical and physical confines of the medium of print. Along the way I developed an argument about the spatial and monumental nature of the work, and how it may have been displayed to end where it began, thus allowing King Edward and King William to be juxtaposed - a not so subtle hint about how to view the succession of William to the English throne. Books you see, never do this - they present the textile like they do a sentence - in a purely linear fashion, - so the Tapestry begins at one point and then many pages later, it ends at another.

So, you might imagine, I then programmed the BTDE so that when the display reached the end, it continued on at the beginning- it didn't just stop when you arrived at the end of the work, just like every book you've seen, right? Oh, ha,ah, heh, ho, oh, no . . . .no.

To compound this meta-critical myopia, at the time I was preparing the BTDE for publication, I was also reading Bolter and Grusin's Remediation, which argued that the logic of new media must first reproduce the logic of the older media before it can realize its own.  It was not until about a year later that I understood what I had(n't) done: I had precisely illuminated B&G's point by remediating the BTDE's digital functionality within the linear logic of the book, and this in spite of my very own critical arguments to the contrary.  I ruled. Or rued. Or something.


  1. This is already my new favorite blog.

    I'm also wondering Martin about the CD-ROM. I mean, I know you can't help that now, but right now we have only one machine in the house that can read this 'new' media, which means probably in a year, I'll be unable to use it at all. I'll just be able to admire it from afar. Is that a fail too?

  2. Yay! And, yeah, I had the same thought. I actually have no machines left that can read the old-New Media CD (which is too bad, since it is really good, even if it doesn't loop at the end).

  3. Never fear, on-line version is in beta, folks - I have seen it live! - and I cannot consider a CD-ROM format a fail when it basically was realized before it was easy & affordable to realize such functionality on-line!

    But in another, related fail, it is taking a long time to get it ready for the public, because in the first version, the edition used Oxford UP books for textual analogues to the events of Hastings (which was extremely expensive), so now we are adapting our own translations from older public domain texts to avoid Oxford UP copyright.

    Copyright, incidentally, should have its own failblog ("flog"?) as it a seemingly endless fail for academic productivity.

  4. P.S. - Asa - I have a OS X port for the BTDE I can give you for the time being (Karl - sorry - no Unix hack, I'm afraid . . .)