Thoughts on the textual and literary, & on text technologies from Babylonian cuneiform to Twitter, with an eye on the medieval
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Fingers and thumbs
One of the OED definitions of 'digital' is, of course, something pertaining to the fingers and thumbs; 'to digitize' is to turn material into digital form, but during the verb's history, it also meant 'to touch or manipulate with the fingers'. Yet digital technology often takes us further away from the materiality of the artefact, as it hovers disembodied in front of us. The hapticity of the touch screen--the stroking and rubbing of the glass--allows for an odd, glazed, cutaneous tactility, but there is nothing proprioceptive about this hand-to-text connection: nothing muscular, nothing kinaesthetic, nothing voluminous. So, isn't it ironic how digitization contains the semantic element of 'touch' and 'manipulation' without any actual contact at all.