Sunday Book-Thought 78

The history of writing serves to remind us that language continually strives to find diverse material representations (the illuminating reflections on this theme by Armando Petrucci are extremely valuable here), and tries to give new forms to space in order to extend its expressive potentialities. Illuminated manuscripts stand to warn us how risky it is to look at pictures out of their context, enlarging them or reproducing them in various forms which can only confuse a reader as to their true nature. Is it wise to disembody or reduce to simple letters of the alphabet the illuminated capitals when these served as an interpretative thread of the text they introduced?
– Luca Toschi, ‘Hypertext and Authorship’, in The Future of the Book, ed by Geoffrey Nunberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 169-207 (p. 191).


Sunday Book-Thought 76

The increase in constraints designed to eliminate all ambiguity from text admittedly facilitates reading, making it faster and more efficient. Reading can also be assisted by computerized aids, which have become necessary as a result of the growing volume of information to be managed every day; these include Web search tools and text analysis tools currently being developed, notably at We need to recognize, however, that the relationship between reading and writing is a zero-sum game, in which the gains of the former come at the cost of more constraints for the latter. Thus the activity of writing, which was already extremely complex, becomes even more so, especially if the author wants to produce texts that can be read by an increasingly broad and distant readership and processed by the above-mentioned programs or even translated automatically. In a society that is increasingly information-based, the movement toward neutrality and objectivity that has been under way since the spread of print will necessarily be reinforced, especially in scientific texts.
Christian VandendorpeFrom Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library, trans. by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009 [first published Montréal: Éditions du Boréal, 1999)]), pp. 20-21.