Commentaries - January 2012

Johanna Drucker on graphical affectivity

Johanna Drucker leading a workshop at the Common Press, the letterpress of the University of Pennsylvania.

Johanna Drucker’s short talk at the 2005 International Association of Word and Image Conference,  September 27, 2005, at the Kelly Writers House, was titled “Graphical Affectivity.” Today it was added to Drucker's PennSound page, and here is a link to the 12-minute recording.

Traces of the trAce Online Writing Centre 1995-2005

trAces: A Commemoration of Ten Years of Artistic Innovation at trAce
trAces: A Commemoration of Ten Years of Artistic Innovation at trAce

Since its foundation in 1995 by Sue Thomas at Nottingham Trent University, UK, under the short-lived name CyberWriting, the trAce Online Writing Centre has been a shifting morphing hybrid entity. Its first output was a word-processed photocopied booklet called Select Internet Resources for Writers, compiled in Summer 1995 by Simon Mills, who went on to build the first trAce website, which launched at the Virtual Futures Conference at Warwick University in May 1996. For the next decade trAce expanded along with the web, evolving organically and somewhat haphazardly into a vast interlinked network created by many different artists, authors and researchers, during a period of rapid technological change.

Between 1995 and 2005 the trAce Online Writing Centre hosted and indeed fostered a complex media ecology: an ever-expanding web site, an active web forum, a local and and international network of people, a host of virtual collaborations and artist-in-residencies, a body of commissioned artworks, the trAce/Alt-X International Hypertext Competition, the Incubation conference series, and frAme, the trAce Journal of Culture and Technology. What emerged was one of the web’s earliest and most influential international creative communities. Its members were diverse, ranging from media-curious workshop participants to artist-in-residencies by some of the most well known practitioners in the fields of new media and digital writing today.

Backward Interview in Der Standard (Vienna)

Frequently Unasked Questions

Published in German translation in Der Standard on January 20, 2011.

This interview was conducted by seminar participants at the Institute for Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna. The seminar sent me a series of answers, all quotatons from my work, and asked me to write questions following each answer.

Why PennSound went dark on January 18, 2012

Universities depend upon the free exchange of ideas. PennSound is the Internet’s largest archive of poetry sound recordings, all available for free for noncommercial and educational use. PennSound will symbolically go black on Wednesday in solidarity with those opposing SOPA and PIPA. PennSound will not be directly affected by these proposed laws, if they are enacted, because all our material is fully permissioned.  But all of us who use the Internet for research or education will be gravely affected by unnecessary regulations that will stifle innovation and block access to information.  Large corporate interest want to privatize knowledge: to gobble it all up (whether it is theirs or not) and sell it. They want to turn around the American principle of presumption of innocence on its head by saying that all knowledge and information is private until proven otherwise. Unlike in China, in our democracy, the presumption must be that information is free to circulate unless a compelling reason can be shown to block it. Knowledge is our commons, a fundamentally shared resource. To indiscriminately block access to vital web resources – without full due process and presumption of innocence – wounds our democracy and cripples our republic. The cures these two bills propose are far worse than the problems they seek to address. There are better, wiser approaches. Don’t let Big Brother get away with this one.