We don’t usually think about reading as a three-dimensional activity, but something that happens on flat surfaces: pages, walls, cards, signs, screens. But those surfaces are always moving through space in relation to human eyes and bodies, other reading or writing surfaces, or still other media devices. And media that might seem completely foreign to each other, capturing information in very specific ways, are still consumed and experienced in very similar kinds of spatial experience. In this presentation, we’ll try to think about the history of media (with a focus on reading and writing across different media forms) in terms of these spatial grammars, and point to how new experiments in user interfaces both draw on and confound those expectations.

About the Speaker

Tim Carmody has a PhD in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania (2009), where he also served as a postdoctoral fellow, studying the history of writing and media theory.

In 2010, he left the academy to become a full-time technology and culture journalist, joining Wired.com and writing for The Atlantic, Kottke.org, MIT Technology Review, Nieman Journalism Lab, and HiLobrow. He also blogs about ideas & journalism at Snarkmarket, pop culture at The Idler, and the history and future of reading at Bookfuturism.com. He specializes in crossover pieces — writing about cell phones or video game consoles for liberal arts audiences, the shift from parchment to paper for e-reader enthusiasts, or what William Carlos Williams’s Paterson can teach us about cyborgs. Mostly, he likes to think really hard while talking as fast as he can.

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