t byfield on Thu, 7 Aug 1997 08:45:22 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> net.<foo>

jesis@xs4all.nl (Tue 08/05/97 at 06:18 PM +0200):

> Dot.fear 

Fear? This is a bit presumptuous, yes?

Erich's suggestion, IIRC, that dots connote hierarchy was correct, I
think--but more than that, they suggest a *path*. This is new in the
realm of punctuation: a way to join names that leaves a trace of how 
you move through them, rather than just stringing them together (the 
hyphen), denoting a range (an endash), interjecting a pause or loose 
connection (an emdash), or inserting an explanation (()). To dismiss
this as "hierarchical" misses the point, though, because hierarchies
are not inherently bad. They *are* necessarily a means or method for
organization and, as such, a modality of power; but an aspect of pow-
er is the way it makes priorities manifest, and so we should have or
find ways to express this in language. That's why the dot's an excel-
lent thing--an innovative way, within the limits of ASCII, to convey
a very basic idea, the path--historical, taxonomic, experiential--by
which a complex object was constructed. 

I began to think about this some years ago when I was talking with a
friend about the history of punctuation. Punctuation is a fairly new
concept in the history of human inscription; even if you were to lim-
it your field to the history of "writing," punctuation has only been
around for a fairly short time, and yet it has come to play a *huge*
role in structuring the way we express ideas. What is interesting is
that there have been many, many more innovations in punctuation than
in phonetic and alphanumeric typography since the advent of moveable 
type: in fact, the tendency to "freeze" language in material forms--
as transmitted fonts, as standardized spellings--has, I think, shift-
ed the focus of innovation from vocal phenomena to logical relations.
And the codification of a "standard set" of linguistic components in
digital forms--for example, the ASCII character set--has only frozen
language that much more; that's why UNICODE, which includes mathemat-
ical notations as well as a number of non-Western notational systems
--has been developed. But, like ASCII, it too is just a codification
of what already *is*--and, as such, it will serve to prevent the dev-
elopment of completely new elements. Under the circumstances, the re-
appropriation--in function (path.notation) and in name ("dot" rather
than "period" or "full stop")--of a "given" element is actually very
> or with all those stupid masses entering the net and spamming it. 

This is pretty rude and stupid, imo.

erich-moechel@apanet.at (Tue 08/05/97 at 12:03 PM +0000):

> The age of slashes is dawning.

*Where* were you in the eighties? The $#%&ing slash colonized all of
academic thought. As a friend of mine said, it has become "the whore
of punctuation."

"It was in the nineteenth century that each person began to have the right 
 to his little box for his little personal decomposition."   --M. Foucault
#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@icf.de and "info nettime" in the msg body
#  URL: http://www.desk.nl/~nettime/  contact: nettime-owner@icf.de