Wednesday, November 12, 2008

11/20: Textuality, Storage, and Computer Forensics

At the 11/20 meeting of the New Media Working Group we will discuss chapter 3 of Matthew Kirschenbaum's Mechanisms (MIT Press, 2008). "'An Old House with Many Rooms': The Textual Forensics of Mystery_House.dsk" is an investigation of a floppy disk containing the 1980 Apple II game Mystery House. You can download a PDF of the chapter from the NMWG website.

Kirschenbaum is a rising star in new media and digital humanities. His latest book is an exploration of the materiality of digital media, and as such presents a much-needed counterpoint to theories of new media which focus on its supposed immateriality and mutability. This chapter will be of interest to people studying games, as he does a "close reading" (with hex editor!) of the first story-based adventure game to feature graphics. But it also happens to be very readable and generally interesting, as Kirschenbaum pulls together everything from William Blake to Aphex Twin to make a coherent case for why we should pay attention to the mechanical minutiae of digital media.