Lisa Gitelman http://lisagitelman.org Professor, NYU Media, Culture, and Communication; NYU English Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:20:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.6 Paper Knowledge http://lisagitelman.org/paper-knowledge Wed, 01 Jan 2014 21:45:15 +0000 http://lisagitelman.org/?p=146 Duke University Press, 2014

This is a book about the mundane: the library card, the promissory note, the movie ticket, the PDF (Portable Document Format). It is a media history of the document. Drawing examples from the 1870s, the 1930s, the 1960s, and today, Paper Knowledge thinks across the media that the document form has come to inhabit over the last 150 years, including letterpress printing, typing and carbon paper, mimeograph, microfilm, offset printing, photocopying, and scanning. Whether examining late nineteenth century commercial printing (a.k.a. “job” printing), or the Xerox machine and the role of reproduction in our understanding of the document, Gitelman reveals a keen eye for vernacular uses of technology. She tells nuanced, anecdote-filled stories of the waning of old technologies and the emergence of new. Along the way, she discusses documentary matters such as the relation between twentieth-century technological innovation and the management of paper, and the interdependence of computer programming and documentation. Paper Knowledge is destined to set a new agenda for media studies.

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Always Already New http://lisagitelman.org/always-already-new/ Thu, 30 May 2013 21:28:10 +0000 http://lisagitelman.org/?p=15 MIT Press, 2006

In Always Already New, Lisa Gitelman explores the newness of new media while she asks what it means to do media history. Using the examples of early recorded sound and digital networks, Gitelman challenges readers to think about the ways that media work as the simultaneous subjects and instruments of historical inquiry. Presenting original case studies of Edison’s first phonographs and the Pentagon’s first distributed digital network, the ARPANET, Gitelman points suggestively toward similarities that underlie the cultural definition of records (phonographic and not) at the end of the nineteenth century and the definition of documents (digital and not) at the end of the twentieth. As a result, Always Already New speaks to present concerns about the humanities as much as to the emergent field of new media studies. Records and documents are kernels of humanistic thought, after all—part of and party to the cultural impulse to preserve and interpret. Gitelman’s argument suggests inventive contexts for “humanities computing” while also offering a new perspective on such traditional humanities disciplines as literary history.

Making extensive use of archival sources, Gitelman describes the ways in which recorded sound and digitally networked text each emerged as local anomalies that were yet deeply embedded within the reigning logic of public life and public memory. In the end Gitelman turns to the World Wide Web and asks how the history of the Web is already being told, how the Web might also resist history, and how using the Web might be producing the conditions of its own historicity.

Read an abstract

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Raw Data Is An Oxymoron http://lisagitelman.org/raw-data-is-an-oxymoron/ Thu, 30 May 2013 21:24:06 +0000 http://lisagitelman.org/?p=9 Lisa Gitelman, ed. MIT Press, 2013

We live in the era of Big Data, with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta- denotes a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every “like” stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but “raw,” that we shouldn’t think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated, protected, and interpreted. The book’s essays describe eight episodes in the history of data from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining; how data are variously “cooked” in the processes of their collection and use; and conflicts over what can—or can’t—be “reduced” to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept; describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data; discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards; and consider contemporary “dataveillance” of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation.

Essay authors:
Geoffrey C. Bowker, Kevin R. Brine, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Steven J. Jackson, Virginia Jackson, Markus Krajewski, Mary Poovey, Rita Raley, David Ribes, Daniel Rosenberg, Matthew Stanley, Travis D. Williams

 

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