August 15, 2007
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Hamlet.doc?

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Matt Kirschenbaum writes about Hamlet.doc? Literature in a Digital Age. He's not interested in literature so much as literary studies: the study of the process through which literature emerged. What did the author do, and when?

There is therefore no natural state for electronic text on a computer. Often we're attracted to its perceived fluidity and flexibility, but that is an outcome of a particular way of modeling a document, not the inherent properties of the medium — as anyone who has ever tried to edit a file for which they lack appropriate permissions will know, as suddenly all that malleable text becomes maddeningly resolute and unyielding.