The Digital-Material Nexus

Or, simply put, what can you possibly learn about a material phenomenon from digital data visualizations? 

There are a number of overly simplistic answers to that question: “Latour!” or the less polite “Haven’t you read Latour?” or the naive optimist’s “lots of stuff!” or the scientific-method-minded mother “You won’t know until you try it, will you?”  But the case I hope to make to you today is not that data visualizations are useful but that they are necessary in order to better comprehend the material phenomenon of manuscript production, particularly for a single text.

Yes, I said it, necessary. Now I could drown you in theory discussing the gap between language and material phenomenon and the insuperability of that gap,* but what I want to discuss instead is a way not to overcome that gap, but to dissolve it entirely by understanding the interconnected way in which matter and form must inevitably work together in the production of knowledge.

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