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OralCulture ManuscriptCulture PrintCulture? DigitalNetwork
Stasis Socially reinforced; hard to deviate from text. However, text is only structure, not precise wordforms. Corruptions rampant in copying process. Libraries reinforce; corruptions reconciled through collocation of copies and scholarship to determine most likely original texts. However, control of all copies creates the opportunity to wholly replace a text with a modification. Occasionally, improvements made to a text. Naturally static as reproductions mostly perfect. Always in flux as time has been added as part of the text. Texts are better considered performances or machines now, rather than any teleological artifact.
Form Multiform; preserved in structure but not precision Uniform, but corruptible. Lost without redundancies Uniform; a single copy is sufficient to recall the full text Form is content; restructures over time to present meaning, so snapshot images are insufficient. Constantly lost unless open source, in which case multiform like oral culture. InternetArchive? preserves only pointwise snapshots across time.
Preservation Socially reinforced through recitals by poets and their audiences Libraries and monasteries; multiple copies necessary to protect against corruptions Libraries and archives keep old texts around; only one necessary. Copyright leaves books vulnerable to being 'out of print'. InternetArchive? preserves images in time, although digital information is constantly in flux. The meaning of preservation is in question as social dimensions of texts are not preservable, even if they are now the most important aspects of a text.
Correction Hard-won; stasis preferred. Entirely new stories required. Marginalia mostly, but also modifications to the text during copying; yet has to survive against overwhelming force to reconcile copies to faithful reproductions of originals--therefore, destroy other copies or fail to reproduce them in lieu of a better version. Due to total stasis of the text, one must criticize texts in separate texts. Very expensive. Creation of AcademicJournal?s to lower costs. Criticisms are no longer collated with their target text, so may never be read. Modifications made directly to the only copy; leads to issues of trust and the need to make images in time by critical and rival RecordKeepers.
Social power Texts were entire societies were entire texts. Changing a text meant changing a society, which meant changing a text meant convincing an entire society, a very difficult choice. Texts were individual artefacts. Only the people in control of the copies of the manuscript had power over the text, a much fewer number than in orality. Most scholars were on the pay of church or king, and thus easily controllable. Texts were mass produced and sold to a mass public market, meaning that it was very difficult to change a text once published as regaining control over every copy was nigh impossible. Texts were controlled by single individuals or institutions who host TheProcessedBook, and thus at their whims and fancies. Watchful eyes and RecordKeepers (including robotic ones such as the InternetArchive?) are the only bulwark against malfeasance.
Identification Synonymous with societies. Each epic poem belongs to a society belongs to an epic poem. Individual copies given individual names, traced individually, and cited individually--necessary even though copies of the same text, as each copy differed from one another. By titles of each text; texts abstracted from their physical form. A book is no longer single book, but rather the content of that book. UniformResourceIndicator?s. Spatially located in the logical structure of the network, even if physically mobile.
Ethnic signature Language & accent Script Font Architecture
Substrate economics People. The more people adhering to a text, the more resilient the text is against destruction. Conversely, the more societies or subsocieties, the more texts. Papyrus, parchment, paper. Limited supplies of writing materials limits what gets preserved; huge supplies permit scholarship. Presses. The expense of a press far outweighs the expense of paper, even though in the early days paper is in low supply compared to the production of presses. Indeed, presses mass consumption of paper creates a paper industry to feed it, since presses are now so powerful in the production of knowledge. Bandwidth. (NetEstate) A combination of storage space and bandwidth define the physicality of a text. Texts copied in multiple locations (aka mirrored) functionally increase bandwidth available to a text, even if distributed over many servers. Alternatively, as bandwidth and storage space outstrip available information, the AttentionEconomy? dictates which texts are copied and thus preserved, and which are ignored and thus lost.
Reproduction granularity By the cliché. Poets memorized the basic story and had poetic techniques for creating words around that story, but the techniques were hardly simple. Familiarity with that culture's style and idioms was necessary. By the character. One could copy a manuscript in another language if one just knew the alphabet. By the character until the second half of the 20th century when photocopying alllowed reproduction by the page. By the work. One simply downloads the entire text all at once.


I like it a lot. I imagine one more row: under what circumstances could a culture irreversibly loose certain parts of its knowledge? And I imagine one more column (a spectaculative one): decentralized digital network. I mean imagining what it would be like to no more have a few servers but every contributor automatically also hosting a part of the data amount like freenet does it. -- MattisManzel

It seems to form some sort of a sine wave in most aspects mentioned, doesn't it? Others show a steady progress in certain derection. -- RadomirDopieralski



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