New Criticals

We often speak of digital writing and code, programming languages and the UI, as playing with writing and representation. As I write this, I strike the keyboard corresponding to the letter I require and it is instantaneously represented to me on the screen. In actuality, neither the key I strike not the corresponding letter I see is actually present, whereas with a pencil and paper, say, when I write a letter, that letter is etched onto the paper.

This is not writing nostalgia – who cares? It is just a point of fact. Beneath my digital words are (to me, at least) an unreadable language. Writing has always been about cuts and engravings and traces; digital writing is about their absence. This is a neutral statement. Non-mechanical writing is also strange and foreign. Derrida: “It is not legitimate to contrast writing by hand and 'mechanical' writing, like a pretechnological craft as opposed to technology...having recourse to the typewriter or computer doesn't bypass the hand.” [8]