Data, Media, and Migration
The innovation in this project so far is not the digitization but the physical recoding. “Open data” means not only digital information (championed by William Noel, “The Commons”) but also the ability to literally open the book. When the 3D book is also treated as data (rather than as a vault, in Noel’s comparison, “Revealing”), its dissemination—and value—can also increase. I would even go so far as to suggest that multi-form books like the Brut reconfigure conventional divisions among analog, digitized, and born-digital artifacts. I take inspiration from Alan Liu’s description of a digital poetics that remains tethered to history: “the task of studying new media…is to help us better to understand what it meant to write, read, and imagine in the past; while, inversely, that of studying old media is to help us appreciate what it now means to encode, browse, simulate, etc.” Liu goes on to contrast “old” and “new” media concepts in ways that can shape a transdigital philology: “preservation” becomes “migration” to new forms; we are no longer working with surrogates but with “simulations.” In this view, the Brut has been migrated, encoded, modeled, and transmitted—in both 3D and 2D, in analog and digital form, in tactile and visual senses. In this state, manuscripts and their avatars impinge on each other’s reality. And the circuits will twist further when, as Bethany Nowviskie has suggested, 3D printing tools become ubiquitous, readily turning digital data into material artifacts.