Loss of Material Authority in Digital Reproductions

The most obvious implications of the shift to digital technologies is the complete loss of material authority: for all of their reproducibility, analog reproductions retained their material status allowing, through careful analysis, for the detection of alterations. As the very concept of alteration is dependent on an original, digital texts and images, because they only become material after-the-fact, never have an original and subsequently never reveal alterations. To change the binary code is to change th thine itself, forever and without a trace… digital reproductions are completely detached from any narrative of progression and at the same time completely dependent on the moments of transmission and reception. As no trace of alterations to the master or original can be detected, the material history of the texts is replaced by the process of production and consumption.

James A. Knapp,
“Essayistic Messages: Internet Newsgroups as an Electronic Public Sphere”

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3 thoughts on “Loss of Material Authority in Digital Reproductions

  1. Yes, an interesting subject. I tend to extend the subject somewhat and question the material authority of memory as such the idea that a thought is essentially a replication of previous experiences. That analog reproductions have become (and this is no mere feat) the extension of our biological memory (& memetic) capacities. The question of the archetypal characteristic of any resultant form of thought begs the question for me if there can in fact be any such things as authentic creativity. The platform its self becoming an important contribution to the resultant creation.

    How are you liking “The Wretched of the Earth”? I enjoyed it greatly. We seem to share a generally similar taste in books.

  2. Indeed, I’ve always been wondering how our biologically reproduced memory are either lacking or excessive in its remembrance of past experiences.

    I can’t say it’s good yet as I’m still concluding with Sartre’s preface. But I can say I’m liking the preface and it’s getting me excited for Fanon’s own text.

    Thanks for dropping by and posting a comment.

  3. and again going back to the 90′s most videos were choppy and random like that cuz editiing boards, doubt any of you ever used one, are pieces of shit and adding random nonsense was the only way to keep things interesting while working

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