Saturday, December 21, 2013

Portrait of the artist as an old laptop

At the FT, Douglas Coupland fantasizes about what might be discerned from writers' laptops stored in archives (FT site registration required):
Here’s the most important question: what would I really like to see? Well, here’s a thought: many writers email themselves a copy of their novels at the end of every day, using the cloud as a back-up mechanism. Imagine if one were able to take all of those daily backups and then place them into a sort of stop-frame animation, one could see how an author constructs their work: words per day; words cut and pasted; paragraphs deleted; items shuffled about; typos; notes to self. Then, when the editing process begins, one could watch how a novel is hacked and pruned and reshaped – an organic process displayed in a dynamic organic mode. This would be a fascinating new way of appreciating a book’s creation – a visual language to describe a verbal process. And while this is just a fanciful idea, it does point out a chasm that now exists before the old manuscript and the new, and gives a taste of a visit to the archives of tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Ben Fry has created a visualization of the different editions of Darwin's Origin that has something of the effect described by Coupland: