On Wednesday, Mashinka & I were EDITors of & at Tan Lin’s Day-Long Publishing event, “Handmade book, PDF, lulu.com Appendix, Powerpoint, Kanban Board/Post-its, Blurbs, Dual Language (Chinese/English) Edition, micro lecture, Selectric II interview, wine/cheese reception, Q&A (Xerox) and a film.” Organized and orchestrated as part of Danny Snelson’s “EDIT: Processing Writing Technologies,” this event was quite possibly the first instance of simultaneous, collaborative, on-demand text generation, editing and publishing.
Tan Lin gave me the task of documenting the various tools of editing and mediation, to be organized, edited and contextualized with corresponding essays. Given the time constraint, and the state of active eventfulness which prevailed, I focused myself on gathering data, armed with an Alphasmart Neo wordprocessor, a Sony digital audio recorder, a Panasonic Lumix digital camera, and 2 FlipMino HD Video Reorders.
I began by focusing on locating, inputting and photographing the myriad of technological devices that were littered throughout the Kelly Writers House, UPenn, where the event was located. My initial sweep included:
The group of some 15 -20 editors had been organized into 6 groups stationed in various rooms. Their tasks ranged from editing and organizing a bibliography from a large stack of source material to designing alternative covers for Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies.
The set goal for this event was to produce and print a variety of books to be individually bound, collected and packaged in a handmade portfolio as an accompaniment to 7CV.
I went from group to group, first simply video documenting their actions and interactions with the devices they were using to edit, transfer, research, input, and design their texts. I repeated rounds, each time investigating further, asking questions:
What word processor are you using?
How many gigs does that thumb drive hold?
Which translation program are you using?
What fonts are you using?
Which printer will you print this on?
What program are you using to format these images in?
What problems are you having?
What MP3 player are you using?
What are you listening to?
How long will this task take you?
Why are you using Google Docs?
Why are you using text edit?
This process sometimes segued into miniature interviews, wherein the editor would turn momentarily from their task to more fully discuss their challenges. Almost every obstacle, though articulated in relation to content, pertained specifically to technological challenges.
In isolating and controlling the editing and publishing process through the constraints of time and place, this event focused attention on the more phenomenological aspects of handling and organizing data. The necessary physicality of each task made seemingly equivalent the practices of making meaning and executing technical operations.
I will explore this relationship in more detail in an essay entitled, “Technological Index,” which will adopt as its format the brevity and bullet-point style of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science. Culling from several pages of notes regarding the processes of each editorial group, as well as from information collected from 35 video clips and many more photographs, I’ll index and contextualize each technological item in relationship to both its general and event-specific use.
Learn more about this event: