Sunday Book-Thought 129

If Franklin W. Dixon [the pen name used by numerous authors for The Hardy Boys series] seemed like a criminal imposter in my childhood, he seems more like the model of authorship today. As many critics have noted over the last several decades, authors get conjured out of collaborations between and among an array of co-producers, both other people and other institutions, none of which can claim sole jurisdiction over the literary work that results. Whatever writers do with paper and ink, they only become authors through a network of editors, publishers, distributors, book stores, reviewers, and universities, to name only a few of the main institutional participants in the process. One great irony of authorship is that people may scribble away as long as they like, but they remain writers, not authors, until institutions like publishers and book stores legitimize their work, and in the process, transform the nature of their own authority.
Jason Puskar, ‘Institutions: Writing and Reading’, in The Cambridge Handbook of Literary Authorship, ed. by Ingo Berensmeyer, Gert Buelens, and Marysa Demoor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) pp. 429-443 (p. 430).

Sunday Book-Thought 114

Here we experience manipulation: when making you behave in the right manner or advising you to do the right thing, both the self-checkout and the car navigation assistant are forms of disciplinary manipulation, in contrast to those open forms of manipulation we find with infantilization, which do not directly tell you what to do. This seems to be of a different kind, with its interface not disciplining us but simply suggesting a situation. Cheerful design signals a simple and unproblematic context. By addressing us as very young children, the playful interfaces of flat design suggest that there is no need to understand anything. Just try it: go press this button, speak to it, create! The simple but colorful appearance signals that the users can be free from second thoughts about the complexity of the technological apparatuses as well as about the complexity of the world we live in.
Mercedes Bunz, ‘The Force of Communication’, in Communication (Minneapolis and Lüneburg: University of Minnesota Press and meson press, 2019), pp. 51-91 (pp. 71-72).