[ISEA2008] Paper: Colette Tron – Writing, creating and knowledge in a digital medias and new technologies society (some problems and critics relatives to old and new languages)


All forms of expression, all languages, can now be produced or processed by digitization or the digital. Thus writing, as I intend it is affected, and creation along with it. Bernard Stiegler; the french philosopher of technology, says that computing can be considered as a new form of writing. It is therefore necessary to understand the way these technologies function, how technè and logos are linked, what their logic is, and how we can use this new alphabet. We can also affirm that in computing and the digital, languages are juxtaposed. Functionally, technically, and semiotically. Data is processed by programs, meaning thousand year-old representation systems group together with recent computer languages, language-machines. How does their logic coincide? What makes sense or sensation? Is it possible to control these anachronisms? Does the machine’s functionalism dissect or reduce the symbolic power of anterior languages? How can we work within these constraints?

Another point is what the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard had already termed in 1979 “the heterogeneity of languages” in computerized societies, is what constitutes postmodern knowledge. New languages accumulate to old ones. But, of course, nobody speaks all these languages, and there is no universal meta-language, and so, no universal knowledge. Since we are confronted with this diversity of languages, perhaps we must make them homogenous. In this sense, rendering something homogenous entails producing meaning from these heterogeneous fragments. It is a work of writing. Created from polymorphic materials, and keeping symbolic wealth of each of them.

With NITC and the internet network, considering this situation, is it possible to invent and create forms and ways to communicate keeping alive the social link ? Which kind of society can emerge from it ? A dialectic of particular languages is what refine our sensibilities and our differences, said Jean-François Lyotard. According to that, cultural communities, singular attitudes and also artists work seem to be a failure to globalization of knowledge.

Full text (PDF) p.  442-443