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How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis Paperback – June 5, 2012
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“How We Think offers a comprehensive account of how humanities scholars and students apprehend their work differently in the context of the digital turn. The perfect fusion of N. Katherine Hayles’s characteristically lucid technical explanations and virtuosic literary analyses, this book navigates the divide between the traditional and digital humanities and shows us how they might in fact intellectually stimulate and support each other. A discipline supposedly in crisis has never seemed so vibrant.”—Rita Raley, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Compelling, brilliant, remarkable for its breadth and its insightful mapping of the digital humanities. A must read for all humanities scholars wanting to move beyond the hype and hysteria surrounding digital media.”—Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Brown University
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Subsequent chapters diverge into such topics as the (mildly interesting) history of telegraphy code books and whether or not databases compete with, complement or supplant a narrative approach. Towards the end Hayles does a deeper analysis of some specific representative DH novels: Steve Tomasula's electronic novel TOC: A New Media Novel, Danielewski's House of Leaves and Only Revolutions: A Novel as finally Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts: A Novel. While interesting in a literary sense, and apropos of the earlier part of the book, I wasn't able to get into them as a genre - not a fault of the authors, more a reflection of my available time and interests.. Each of these works appear to be overly complex with layered references that one would need someone like Hayles as an interpretative guide. Of course one could say the same for James Joyce's Ulysses, Dylan Thomas or Cloud Atlas: A Novel. OTOH I have enjoyed more whimsical self referential meta-novels such as Jasper FForde's The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel series and the magic realism of Jorges Luis Borges The Aleph and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)
What led me to this book was Ron Day's Indexing It All who gave high praise to Hayles' ideas. That which Day recommended was worth reading but the book as a whole wandered and didn't deliver on it's initial premises.