Friday, 6 June 2008

the medium is the mash-up

According to Will Self, via the 3AM blog via a BBC magazine article, "the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled, because he or she has to retype a whole text, to do a lot more thinking in the head."

This comment was made in relation to writers continuing to use typewriters. In fact the BBC story headline reads "Why typewriters beat computers". Which is true, but then computers beat typewriters, and pens beat computers and pencils top pens. It's the old Mcluhanism at work - the medium is the message, and each medium brings something to the message that another medium doesn't. So the mashed prophet is not going to get worked up about what is the superior medium. What is pertinent for this blog is Will Self's comment in relation to textual mash-ups.

If you're old enough to remember when CD's first appeared, they made a big hoo-haa on the CD sleeves about which particular recording technique was used. AAD, ADD, DDD and so on, in which A stood for analogue and D for digital, with each letter standing for the corresponding step in the recording process.

I've often thought of this system in relation to writing mash-ups, because I can choose how I am going to record it. Most often I like to retype the texts that I am going to be mashing instead of say copying and pasting from an online source. That would give the process an analogue element. Sometimes I'm lazy, or what I want to use is too long, so I just copy and paste. Sometimes I work on paper and then transfer it to the computer screen. Maybe, one day in the future, I'll buy a typewriter and use that as well just for fun. But whether I'm thinking on the screen, or thinking in my head, using a non-destructive editing process that the computer screen offers me, or a destructive editing process that a pen and a piece of paper offers me (and maybe in the future a typewriter), the writing process remains beautifully mysterious, allowing for the strengths and weaknesses of the medium in which writing records itself to incarnate the Word.


Steve said...

Thanks for inviting me here. I love the idea of mashing. I like the two (have you tried more than two?) quotes interwoven. But it would also be nice to see them a second time with each quote in a unique font or color.

Ive thought a lot about how different the process of writing on paper is from on a screen. The ease of the screen is seductive, but when I put ink on paper now and then I remember the pure physical pleasure of writing

Have you considered taking a picture of a mash that you wrote on paper and just posting the picture?

Maybe if I read further than this I would find that you have tried all this.

mashed prophet said...

Thanks Steve. I really like your idea of writing a mash-up on paper, snapping it, and uploading the image. Also the idea of different font colours.