Writing Documentarity


Arthur Perret

Université Bordeaux Montaigne

DOCAM — June 13th, 2019

Documentality

I propose these four aspects—functionality, historicity, complexity, and agency—as the principal characteristics of the concept of documentality (Frohmann, 2012).

Documentality is prescriptive, documentation is descriptive (Day, 2018, p. 8).

Precedents:

Material things themselves (objects) can be considered as documents when they are taken as discernible elements, directly from studies, or as evidence in a demonstration. This is “objective documentation” or “automatic documentation” (Otlet, 1934, p. 217).

An anonymous Egyptian mummy, a gorilla in a cage, a piece of Spath . . . in this case the document transmits information about itself. It is an « auto-document » (Pagès, 1948, sec. 46).

Shifting the focus to interpretation.

What is it that causes something to « seem documentary »? (Gaudreault & Marion, 1994, p. 13)

documentarity

An image always presents a greater or lesser degree of resemblance with the object which it is modeled on, and thus can always claim to « seem documentary ». This claim to a greater or lesser « documentarity » is dependent on the medium . . . Photography has, ontologically, a high degree of documentarity . . . The dedree of documentarity of a medium depends on its ability to show a greater or lesser number of indices of reality (Gaudreault & Marion, 1994, pp. 17–19).

Documentarity as quality / property / characteristics (Eigenschaft) on the basis of which we judge information:

Documentarity is a measure of what a content enables through a writing contract based on its documentary properties (Crozat, 2016).

Writing

A specific unifying principle for the document and the computer is the presence of writing (Warner, 1990).

1967

W. Tunnicliffe & S. Rice (GCA GenCode Committee) imagine a generic computer implementation of editorial codes*.

*e.g. “Body” = “Times 12pt justified”.

1969

Goldfarb, Mosher & Lorie (IBM) invent the Generalized Markup Language (GML) (ancestor of SGML, HTML and XML).

Markup is made of scripturation

This is the generic term I propose to designate all marks of enunciation, handwritten and typographical . . . Non-punctuation scripturation is intra- and supraphrastic: it refers to the most general divisions of documents, such as parts or chapters, in the table, paragraph, bracket, hyphen, bracket, italics (Laufer, 1986).

Markup is used in architexture

Architexture is meant, in brief, to stand for the building of the text as it is seen and is formed with the reader’s collaboration, special attention being given to the surface of the building material, its texturality (Caws, 1981, p. 10).

Markup functions as an architext

A technology of the intellect (Goody, 1977) which organizes enunciation. Une écriture de l’écriture.*

*Reinterpretation of Jeanneret & Souchier (1999) based on Collomb (2017) and Goyet (2017).

Humans and machines read and write architext.

Digital products of document acts and knowledge organization are architextual.

Techno-semiotics

Documentarity as a “philosophy of evidence” interested in “technologies of judgement” (Day, 2019).

Part of it: studying the technological mediations of read/write processes.

Writing documentarity

  • Acknowledgements ANR HyperOtlet
  • Special thanks S. Crozat, R. Day
  • Fonts EB Garamond

References

Caws, M. A. (1981). The eye in the text. Princeton : Princeton University Press. http://archive.org/details/eyeintextessayso0000caws

Collomb, C. (2017). Faire compter les machines. Communication, 34(2). DOI : 10.4000/communication.7327

Crozat, S. (2016). Proposition : principe de documentarité. As we may... http://aswemay.fr/co/010013.html

Day, R. (2018). Auto-Documentality as Rights and Powers. Proceedings from the Document Academy, 5(2). https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/docam/vol5/iss2/3

Day, R. E. (2019). Documentarity: Evidence, Ontology, and Inscription. Cambridge : MIT Press.

Frohmann, B. (2012). The documentality of Mme Briet’s antelope. In J. Packer & S. B. C. Wiley (Eds.), Communication Matters: Materialist Approaches to Media, Mobility and Networks (pp. 173–182). London : Routledge.

Gaudreault, A., & Marion, P. (1994). Dieu est l’auteur des documentaires…. Cinémas : Revue d’études cinématographiques / Cinémas : Journal of Film Studies, 4(2), 11–26. DOI : 10.7202/1001020ar

Goody, J. (1977). The Domestication of the Savage Mind. (S.l.) : Cambridge University Press.

Goyet, S. (2017). De briques et de blocs. La fonction éditoriale des interfaces de programmation (API) web : entre science combinatoire et industrie du texte. Thèse de doctorat. Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris. https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01665406/

Jeanneret, Y., & Souchier, E. (1999). Pour une poétique de « l’écrit d’écran ». Xoana, (6/7).

Laufer, R. (1986). L’énonciation typographique. Communication et langages, (68). DOI : 10.3406/colan.1986.1762

Otlet, P. (1934). Traité de documentation. Le livre sur le livre. Bruxelles : Palais Mondial.

Pagès, R. (1948). Transformations documentaires et milieu culturel (Essai de documentologie). Revue de Documentation, 15(3), 53–64.

Warner, J. (1990). Semiotics, information science, documents and computers. Journal of Documentation, 46(1), 16–32. DOI : 10.1108/eb026850