The gathering of collective memory. A pre-literate notion of memory, in a communal way, something commemorative rather than putting a memory in a container. What we thought it was going to be changed completely. We are in that way changing our memory of what it was supposed to be. What are you able to collect? Memories? Objects? People? A collection of texts and people, collecting and composing each other? Somehow it's not even important that we have all the knowledge, what's important is the living, generative sense of the collection.

understanding texts

Simon Browne

understanding texts

see also human writing, machine writing, producing texts, technologising the word

What makes up a text depends on perspective and overlapping dimensions of text; editorial, technical and social.

The editorial dimension; a sequence. A line of characters and spaces, the particular order that the writer sets these in. Text becomes an object, a carrier of thoughts and feelings, something that can be sent back and forth between participants in a conversation.

The technical dimension; a process. Cybertexts and “ergodic literature” require non-trivial effort to read1. Examples of this are MUDs (multi-user dungeons/domains/dimensions), which are real-time virtual worlds in which the players construct the story on-the-fly, and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves2, a printed novel that defies a linear narrative structure through its cybertextual materiality.

The social dimension; a framework, a network of texts that elicit further texts.

The library is a collection of texts; not just books, but also files, metadata, scripts and the processes that determine how they are used, and the readers who use them.


Image: A spread from Danielewski’s House of Leaves


  1. Aarseth, E.J. (1997) Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press. 

  2. Danielewski, M.Z. (2000) Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves. 2nd ed. New York: Pantheon Books.