Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination

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MIT Press, 2008 - Social Science - 296 pages
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In Mechanisms, Matthew Kirschenbaum examines new media and electronic writing against the textual and technological primitives that govern writing, inscription, and textual transmission in all media: erasure, variability, repeatability, and survivability. Mechanisms is the first book in its field to devote significant attention to storage--the hard drive in particular--arguing that understanding the affordances of storage devices is essential to understanding new media. Drawing a distinction between "forensic materiality" and "formal materiality," Kirschenbaum uses applied computer forensics techniques in his study of new media works. Just as the humanities discipline of textual studies examines books as physical objects and traces different variants of texts, computer forensics encourage us to perceive new media in terms of specific versions, platforms, systems, and devices. Kirschenbaum demonstrates these techniques in media-specific readings of three landmark works of new media and electronic literature, all from the formative era of personal computing: the interactive fiction game Mystery House, Michael Joyce's Afternoon: A Story, and William Gibson's electronic poem "Agrippa."


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Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Professor of English and Associate Director at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), here examines digital media in the context of traditional ... Read full review


Storage Inscription and Computer Forensics
A Grammatology of the Hard Drive
The Textual Forensics of Mystery_Housedsk
Michael Joyces Afternoons
The Transformissions of Agrippa
The Forensic Imagination
Appendix Hacking AgrippaThe Update
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Page xiv - Staley, director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas...
Page 20 - Americans at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Page 11 - A bit has no color, size, or weight, and it can travel at the speed of light. It is the smallest atomic element in the DNA of information. It is a state of being: on or off, true or false, up or down, in or out, black or white. For practical purposes we consider a bit to be a 1 or a 0.

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About the author (2008)

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Associate Professor of English and Associate Director, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), University of Maryland. He was a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.

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