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(re)Publishing Prototypes

Technology is not the sum of the artefacts, of wheels and gears, of rails and electronic transmitters. For me, technology is a system. It entails far more than the individual material components. Technology involves organisation, procedure, symbols, new words, equation, and most of all it includes the mindset. 

(Ursula Franklin, The Real World of Technology, Part 1 - pdf podcast)
[M]inimal computing engages social approaches to materials and built environments [..]. Here, “minimal” implies low-tech methods whereby materials are responsive and even shape themselves to the needs of specific people or situations [unfolding a] social and cultural praxis premised on negotiations with materials and structures. 

(Jentery Sayers, Minimal Definitions, page 25)
Technotexts: When a literary work interrogates the inscription technology that produces it, it mobilizes reflexive loops between its imaginative world and the material apparatus embodying that creation as a physical presence.

(Katherine N. Hayles, Technotexts pdf  pdf (monoscope))

Prototyping sessions

During the prototyping sessions of Special Issue #13 we will work with different (re)publishing systems.

Be ready for a deep dive into the materiality of techno-texts and layout-engines!

It will be the starting point to speak about the impact of what Ursula Franklin calls "prescriptive technologies". Examples of such prescriptive technologies are publishing tools or platforms that operate in a single fixed way. They shape us as a (so-called) "user" and take away a large portion of agency over formats, structures and other mechanisms that shape a publication. Throughout this trimester we will explore different ways to work with/on/through technology in a more holistic way. To do this, we will work on re-thinking, re-learning and re-making (re)publishing systems.

  • How can we get comfortable with defining our own systems?
  • How can we feed our "technical imaginations" an "layout imaginations"?
  • How can we be intimate with the materials and tools we work with?
  • How can we "thicken" a publication making process, by including layers, structures and logics?

Things that we will bump into (and there will surely be more):

layout engines
 - ascii
 - canvas
 - html
spatial layouts
versioning tools

And in terms of tools/formats:

  • Python
  • PDFs
  • Etherpad
  • plain text
  • markup languages
  • Markdown
  • document convertion tools
  • Jupyter Notebooks
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Jinja Templates