December 4, 2005

"What should I wear?" she asked.

Sometimes, the special appeal of text, especially word processed text, is that we can disappear into it. There is no revealing handwriting or physical information about the speaker, we see just the words in their standard uniform. On the web especially, we are born through the text without a material body. In some ways we are unconstrained and in other ways we are limited by this non-corporality. The use of : ) and LOL are perfect examples of the way we try to regain our physical gestures while engaging through text.

Kathryn Hayles discusses this lack of embodiment in How we became Posthuman . Working from the ideas of Michel Certeau Hayles writes:

Embodiment is akin to articulation in that it is inherently per formative, subject to individual enactments, and therefore to some extent improvisation. Whereas the body can disappear into information with scarcely a murmur of protest, embodiment cannot, for it is tied to the circumstances of the occasion and the person.(197-8)

Even as we are drawn to the freedom of the web, we still rely on physical gesture to elucidate a point or a thought. As much as we move from voice to voice, we still need to reference our physical being.

And because we need this kind of contextual grounding, we are always engage in a contextual persona whenever we write on the web. To speak, even during, or especially during, the text that is estranged from our selves, we are always considering what kind of person we want to say what we are saying. In other words, we are always considering the context of what we are trying to say, and trying find ways to convey that context in our writing, especially when we are not there to represent what is said, like on the web.

In a very metaphorical way, we rifle through our closet of voices every time we write, and try to find the one that will convey how you want to appear in the context of what is being said. The text is speaking for you, and in most cases, you want an appropriately dressed representative. Posted by wood0072 at December 4, 2005 8:10 AM