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In this reading, we are engaging in a critical thinking on the mode of existence of the written form in the computer world and on its cultural consequences.

In their 2005 article, researchers Yves Jeanneret and Emmanuël Souchier underline the absence of critical thinking on the writing mediums in digital context, and in particular on their political and cultural effects.

We are seeing a shift in the loci of power and the grip on culture. Traditional cultural actors tend to be dispossessed of the order of the text, in favour of those who, because of their technical skills ou their economic power, are creating for others the coditions of their expression.

Yves Jeanneret et Emmanuël Souchier, L’énonciation éditoriale dans les écrits d’écran, 2005

Writing is power, and it is (among others) this power which is discussed here: a “writing-over”—a super-writing which anticipates, and eventually marks around, what others can write “within”; a latent form of paternalism, invisibilized by an aura of neutrality of what is problematically named “tool”; “the sur-render to the principles of software.”

Hence the necessity—and even urgency—of questioning these “tools”1: by whom and for what goal were they created? How do they actually work, at the software level? What behaviour do they induce? What do they authorize (through their interface, formats, licenses, usage policy)?

Writings in the digital are also political.

  1. The authors speak of “architexts” to designate the tools of textual production, which allows to script the screen, to programme the means for accessing, producing and broadcasting texts. (From the same authors, see Pour une poétique des écrits d’écran, 1999.) ↩︎