Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing

Track Changes A Literary History of Word Processing The story of writing in the digital age is every bit as messy as the ink stained rags that littered the floor of Gutenberg s print shop or the hot molten lead of the Linotype machine During the period

  • Title: Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing
  • Author: Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
  • ISBN: 9780674417076
  • Page: 201
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The story of writing in the digital age is every bit as messy as the ink stained rags that littered the floor of Gutenberg s print shop or the hot molten lead of the Linotype machine During the period of the pivotal growth and widespread adoption of word processing as a writing technology, some authors embraced it as a marvel while others decried it as the death of literaThe story of writing in the digital age is every bit as messy as the ink stained rags that littered the floor of Gutenberg s print shop or the hot molten lead of the Linotype machine During the period of the pivotal growth and widespread adoption of word processing as a writing technology, some authors embraced it as a marvel while others decried it as the death of literature The product of years of archival research and numerous interviews conducted by the author, Track Changes is the first literary history of word processing.Matthew Kirschenbaum examines how the interests and ideals of creative authorship came to coexist with the computer revolution Who were the first adopters What kind of anxieties did they share Was word processing perceived as just a better typewriter or something How did it change our understanding of writing Track Changes balances the stories of individual writers with a consideration of how the seemingly ineffable act of writing is always grounded in particular instruments and media, from quills to keyboards Along the way, we discover the candidates for the first novel written on a word processor, explore the surprisingly varied reasons why writers of both popular and serious literature adopted the technology, trace the spread of new metaphors and ideas from word processing in fiction and poetry, and consider the fate of literary scholarship and memory in an era when the final remnants of authorship may consist of folders on a hard drive or documents in the cloud.

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    1 thought on “Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing”

    1. In this outstanding book, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum decodes the relationship writers have had with word processing technology since the literary world began to shift from typewriters to the personal computer. If this subject matter sounds dry, happily it is anything but in the pages of 'Track Changes'. Kirschenbaum, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, takes on the topic with depth and an accessible prose style. The result should have broad appeal to a general readership a [...]

    2. I love haunting quotes at the opening of novels; they serve to ground the story—like a song referenced within another song—in our existant reality, even if it is a wildly fantastic tale.But unless you purposely flip back to refresh yourself, you’ll only see the quote before you begin the text. It will be completely shorn of context, which is pretty neat, adding to the mystique but potentially dooming the quote bemusing irrelevance or, dare I say, complete oversight. But it you’re forced [...]

    3. A bit academic, and didn't have quite as many stories about writers and their early word processors as I would have liked, but the computer history nerd in me was pretty happy with this overall. I hope the author does a similar study about later developments in word processing and how more current writers use the technology.

    4. Found this in a B&N and was intrigued, returned the next week with a coupon to buy it, only to find that it wasn't on the shelf anymore, though it was still in the catalog. I asked a customer service person about it and, after a few minutes, she returned, book in hand. Apparently it had been marked to go back to the publisher and was sitting in the back room to be mailed later that day. "You're the luckiest man on the planet!" she said. Book rescue notwithstanding, I couldn't help but think [...]

    5. The book is at its best when it uses its focus on literary fiction to provide close readings of computational composition in fiction itself. Otherwise, I found it hard to understand/justify the exclusively literary focus (and, indeed, Kirschenbaum himself didn't stick to it as exclusively as his introduction suggested he might). This said, I appreciated the vast amount of archival digging that went into the monograph and was also pleased that Kirschenbaum erred away from the type of technologica [...]

    6. More literary history of authors and the word processors they used than of the word processors and computers.A very well written wonderful book.Others may love it. So I would recommend giving it a chance especially if you are interested in contemporary literature, the approach to writing and the impact that technology has had on writers - authors.The introduction to the book is so wonderfully written. I just lost patience with it after a while. That may be a poor reflection on myself rather than [...]

    7. Nope, this is not about emacs vs. vim. Rather you can learn about the long road that started at (electrical) typewriters, lead to typewriters that feature magnetic tape storage all the way to the first versions of MS Word. If you're someone who spends a lot of time doing word processing - and if you're reading this the chances for that are good - then you'll find a super interesting history in this book.

    8. En algunos momentos se convierte en bastante truño, con idas de olla filosóficas sobre el concepto de las palabras convertidas en electrones y pajas mentales similares. Parecido a los que dicen que echan en falta el olor o el tacto de un libro cuando leen un eBook (pues a mi, este libro ha hecho que me duelan los tendones de la mano por tenerlo abierto, cosa que no me pasa con mi Kindle).Por lo demás, por lo menos para los friks a los que les interesen estas cosas, el libro es muy interesante [...]

    9. "As Kirschenbaum's history reminds us, the story of personal computers supplanting older systems dedicated to word processing–and writers' larger commitment to abandoning pens and ink and typewriter ribbons and correction fluid–was hardly the fait accompli that we sometimes think it was. His book attempts a full literary history of this shift."–Eric Banks on Matthew G. Kirschenbaum's Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing in the April/May 2016 issue of BookforumTo read the re [...]

    10. This is a great book. It traces the history of word processing, and how in particular fiction writers adopted this technique. As such it offers a great insight into the writing process of a number of writers, as well as a history of the early personal computers, something that awakened a certain nostalgia in me. On a deeper level, it also illustrates the writing process, how you get from a full brain and empty sheet of paper/screen to a finished book. Warmly recommended for anybody either writin [...]

    11. A very interesting look at the role of word processing in fiction (and some non-fiction). As a history, it's fantastic. The more theoretical textual analyses were outside of my wheelhouse, but in general, the book has a lot of fantastic stories.

    12. Aside from the far too frequent mention of Stephen King, this is a great book that helps preserve and share the early history of word processing and its integration into publishing, writing, and everyday life.

    13. This is for the nerdiest of nerds.The writing is very introspective. Much more so than I thought. Good philosophically meanderings through the world of bits and bots and muse.Recommend for writers and software nerds. Maybe historically-minded people too.

    14. A nice niche history, with perspective on where we’ve come from as a creative species and how the tools writers specifically use have shaped their work. Short review here: chadcomello/track-changes

    15. This is a well researched and fun journey through the history of word processing. It made me want to fire up the old Compaq Portable again.

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