Session 1: WHAT IS A BOOK?
Alan Liu (US) - This is Not a Book: Long Forms of Shared Attention in the Digital Age
Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 10.30 – 12.30
A common response to an online book is that while it may be better or worse than a book, ‘this is not a book’. But new digital media also have a defamiliarizing effect, making us realize that physical books were themselves never truly books – if by ‘book’ we mean a long form of attention designed for the permanent, standard, and author- itative (that is, socially repeatable and valued) communication of human thought or experience. This is also the conclusion of recent scholarship in the history of the book andhistoryofreadingfieldsastheyhave evolved into parallel forms of media theory. After looking at the not-book of _Agrippa (a book of the dead)_ – a codex of 1992 that was transitional between physical and online books – this talk outlines methods for discovering and tracking socially repeat- able and valued ‘long forms of attention,’ whether past or present. The talk concludes with a look at the RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment) created by the Transliteracies Project at the University of California.