Sunday Book-Thought 103

Documents have a long history, of course. What is so important here is that in addition to reproducing documents, xerography both identifies and creates them. Xeroxing became a way – part of a whole repertoire of ways, really – of seeing documents as documents. That is, it was and remains a way of reading. Xeroxing is reading not in the sense that machines such as scanners are said to read, but rather in the way that people are variously trained to read, first by becoming literate and later within additional disciplinary frames. This is not to say that Xerox machines read, in other words, but that people who Xerox read with the machines, under the particular conditions by which the document is the genre being read. To Xerox something, in short, is to read it as a document. The medium and the genre are fully entangled.
Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), p. 102