EBrock

Reading Text

“Typography is what language looks like.”-Ellen Lupton

Introduction

On the topic of new media, conversation favors the futuristic, never-before-seen technologies like 3-D graphics, voice recognition, GPS capabilities, and the like. What receives less attention is one of the technological forms that has changed the most drastically in recent years, perhaps the most ubiquitous technology of all, the written word. It is puzzling to discuss text as a technology; we were reading books hundreds of years ago, and we still read books today. Text feels traditional, immutable, neutral. Upon closer examination, we shall see that text is none of these things. Just as a virtual reality game is a medium through which we experience the world, written text is also a medium that deserves to be traced and evaluated.

There is a rich history of the transmission of typeface and book design throughout history, beginning with the gothic calligraphic styles in the 12th century and earlier. As socio-cultural changes occurred in Europe, the typeface along with the act of reading changed as well. The most recent (and perhaps the most monumental) development in writing technology is that of the hypertext, and consequentially, the e-reader. The rate at which society has embraced electronic reading devices over books begs the question: could we possibly be replacing one of the oldest forms of technology on the planet, the book? It seems unlikely, but American culture is certainly moving in that direction.

In 2006 renowned American author John Updike spoke at a Book Expo America event in Washington, D.C. Clearly upset, Updike pled to the booksellers, “Defend your lonely forts…Keep your edges dry. Your edges are our edges. For some of us, books are intrinsic to our human identity” (The Digital Emperor Has No Clothes 1). For Updike and many other writers and readers, the book is part of a cultural and personal identity. There are institutions, most notably the library, that depend on the existence of the book. At the same time, it appears there are societal needs which are comfortably facilitated in the e-reader (portability, storage capability, ease of reading), which may overcome the nostalgia and psychological dependence on the book.

Embodied in this dilemma is a question which all new media forms have provoked us to address: are these new written media forms (hypertext, the e-reader, and the interfaces they employ) destroying and manipulating the experience of reading? An act that was primarily performed to contemplate ideas and enjoy narratives is now more complex; people still read for pleasure, but reading for (easier and faster) information acquisition is an increasing demand in modern society. There is no doubt that the creation of modern technologies and mediums have revolutionized the act of reading, but there is a critical flaw in the way this question is posed in new media discourses. A new media form, like hypertext, does not have the agency to change the way we read. Only we do. These technological platforms evolved out of cultural changes that facilitated their use. Anyone who, like John Updike, is dismayed with the current state of reading should look to greater cultural patterns; the increasing complexity of knowledge production and dissemination, increasing demands for communication, and the desire to be as productive as possible. Writing technologies developed alongside, and in conjunction with these cultural changes, but they were far from the sole cause. By examining the prevailing theoretical and historical discourses surrounding the cultural significance of the written word, up to and including the computerized word, we will hopefully gain a more nuanced understanding of how society has influenced writing forms, and consequentially influenced the act of reading along with it.


Mediology and the Cultural Transmission of the Text

In one of his influential works, Media Manifestos (1996), Regis Debray describes the mysteries of human action as a “black box”:

At the entry to the “black box” there are sonorities, letters, faint traces; at the exit: new legislations, institutions, police forces. To dismantle this “box” is to analyze what we shall call a fact or deed of transmission, or to produce the rules of transformation from one state into another…The structural stability of languages and codes is one thing, the quaking of a stable structure by an event of speech or word, or any other symbolic irruption, is another (Debray 10).

This process of examining transmission, thereby revealing the true nature of human’s relationship to any mediated form, is called Mediology. Debray uses this term to describe the analysis of man’s “symbolic activities”, which can include literature, art, religion, and other cultural institutions, and the ways in which they are organized and circulated, and thereby imposed upon historical processes (Debray 11). By analyzing the transmission over time of any cultural event or development, it becomes easier to see the factors that contributed to its existence. In terms of any technological development, looking at its transmission can expose its social and cultural embeddedness, eliminating the deterministic sentiment that technology determines and controls how we live.

In terms of a technology like the text, earlier, more art-driven forms seem more closely related to culture. In Western society the notion of culture is often heavily attached to the arts. But as text is transmitted through time it becomes standardized, mechanized, and electronified, yet remains a product of cultural interactions. The key task, as Debray describes in What is Mediology, is “to destroy the wall that separates technology, until now experienced in Western tradition as anticulture, and culture, experienced as antitechnology. Each of these domains is thought as against the other. Perhaps it is time to think them systematically one by the other, one with the other” (Debray 1). By thinking of culture and technology as inseparable entities, we can more accurately perceive the motives and needs that precipitate technological innovations, and perhaps change our behavior regarding them. Regarding text, it is valuable to trace its long-term historical transmission, rather than just focusing on new media forms.

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Gutenberg Bible: the first book printed with moveable type (1452-3)
As Ronald Deiber notes in his book Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation, the first significant process of transmission of the text can be seen with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1439. This era coincided with the rise of early modern Europe, which brought along with it a new sense of the individual as an important actor within society, rather than the community as it had been before. As commercialism, along with the newer Protestant modes of thought thrived, the focus on the individual intensified (Deibert 95). This shift towards individualism, in conjunction with the wider dissemination of printed text, fostered the idea of the authoritative author, the singular voice. Print became the “final form” in which leaders communicated their ideas (Deibert 97). As literacy amongst the lay population increased, language became more standardized, therefore contributing to the concept of national language and identity. By the 1500’s the act of reading had transformed from that of the oral tradition, to a tradition of reading alone, in silence. Where reading was traditionally a communal activity, done most often in church, it was now becoming an intellectual activity. Books were being read in universities and among aristocrats, creating the demand for smaller, more portable books (Deibert 99). The privatization of the act of reading profoundly affected its transmission through time.


This growing tendency in modern Europe towards favoring the individual identity as well as the national identity were complemented by the ability to disseminate writing using moveable type. If the books available to you were written in French, then you were French. If they were in German, you were German. Society was no longer a collective, a mysterious expanse of people and practices, each unknown to the other. The increased dissemination of knowledge and information facilitated the speed with which ideas spread and production occurred. The new pace of modern life would soon require even more advanced technologies than the printing press, and these technologies would completely change the direction of transmission of the written word.

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Punch cards: the medium for information storage in Babbage's "Analytical Engine"
In his book The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich describes how new media in general became necessitated in modern society, which is an important precursor for how new forms of text were later adopted. He conveniently picks up close to where Deibert left off. In the 1830’s, Manovich claims, two separate events occurred that would lead to the invention of new media forms. To clarify, “new media” as defined by Manovich includes “the Internet, Web sites, computer multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMs and DVD, and virtual reality” (Manovich 19). But in the 1830’s, before any of these media forms existed, two separate trajectories were gaining speed: those of modern media and computing. Louis Dagguere’s “Daguerrotype”, a new process of reproducing images, and Charles Babbage’s “Analytical Engine”, a numerical computation machine, were both invented to cope with the needs of the growing mass society (Manovich 22). The public was entranced and entertained by the Daguerrotype, and their work was made easier and more efficient by the Analytical Engine.


It wasn’t until 1936 that Manovich notes the first time these two trajectories meet. As the inventor of the first working digital computer, Konrad Zuse utilized old film strips as punch cards to control computer programs. Manovich interprets this event as the first time media was used simply as an information carrier, paving the way for the convergence of the two forms fifty years later with the creation of computer interfaces, software, etc (Manovich 25). The advent of hypertext, a new way of processing written information, would become a monumentally significant part of this process.

By tracing the historical transmission of a technology far back in time, we are able to gain a better idea of the entire trajectory of the cultural conversation surrounding that technology. As Debray says in What is Mediology?, the purpose of mediology is “to bring to light the function of medium in all its forms, over a long time span…and without becoming obsessed by today's media” (Debray 1). While it is tempting to focus solely on new media forms because they different in such stark contrast to traditional media, it is crucial to focus on the entire narrative to understand the cultural changes that facilitate these new kinds of media.


Roland Barthes: From Work to Text

In his essay From Work to Text, Roland Barthes describes a “work” as a linear, fixed model of writing, an object to be held in the hand or put on the shelf of a library. A work can be moderately symbolic at best. However, with the appearance of new types of discourse, among them Marxism and Freudianism, a sense of interdisciplinarity has been attributed to various other discourses, including literature (Barthes 156). To Barthes, this new style of discourse revolutionized the relationship between reader, writer, and critic. Instead of a work, we are now faced with the new medium of communication: the text. In opposition to the fixity of the work, the text only exists in discourse, it cannot be confined to the physicality of the book. The text cannot be reduced to any one meaning (Barthes 158).

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Visual Thesaurus: Word Networks
The notion of the text brings with it a new technique and mode of thinking regarding the act of reading. The goal is not to perfectly transmit all of the ideas from the author’s mind into the reader’s mind. The act of reading is no longer a linear process; instead it is a networked process where the text is viewed as an open system of previous knowledge (Barthes 161). The idea that the content of a text is made up of a networked agglomeration of knowledge over time, rather than the totally unique mental process of the author, changes the role of the author within the literary discourse. The idea of the “classic” is put to rest, the idea that any one work leaves more of a legacy than any other work. Perhaps more importantly, the text changes the role of the reader; it is the reader’s job to create meaning and to “play” the text. In Barthes’ words “…the text plays itself…and the reader plays twice over, playing the text as one plays a game, looking for a practice which reproduces it, but, in order that the practice not be reduced to a passive inner mimesis (the text is precisely that which resists such a reduction), also playing the text in the musical sense of the term” (Barthes 162).




This process of acting upon and participating in text, or the relationship between reader and text in Barthes’ theory, bears a strong resemblance to the relationship between the user and the Internet in contemporary society. While Barthes’ notion of the work is full of hierarchy and preference of certain outputs over others, the notion of the text as well as that of the Internet is a sense of “flatness” (Manovich 73). Instead of using language to manipulate the reader into a certain way of thinking, all of the information on the Internet appears to be presented neutrally, on one plane, with no Web site having preference over any other. The experience of navigating the Internet, like that of the text, is non-linear. Any word or phrase in a text can be associated with an endless number of networked associations, just as an Internet user can click on a series of links and navigate the information space in their own way. While the obvious difference between the text and the Internet is the fact that one has a physical presence and the other a digital presence, the mental work shares several commonalities. The act of “playing” a text favors a certain technique of information processing over the traditional mode of “digesting” a work.


Lotman, Foucault, and Hall: The Cultural Memory

As a product of cultural changes, the text is also part of what Yuri Lotman calls the “nonhereditary memory of the community” in his essay On the Semiotic Mechanism of Culture (213). As such, the text serves as a mechanism for propagating various codes, facts, and hierarchies that are valued within a specific culture. Because the text is a cultural vehicle, representing a social reality of a given place, it is crucial to understand that the “semiotic norms” being conveyed do not represent any concrete reality (Lotman 216). Information is filtered through text based on what society hopes to remember or wishes to forget. When certain codes become outdated, like Lotman’s example of superstition, the texts that concern them fall out of favor. In this way culture becomes a language of the text, just as English or French. It is a “second order” symbolic system. Just like a spoken language, a cultural language must be learned and inherited from older generations (Lotman 224).
The idea of text presenting a social reality provokes us to wonder about the hegemonic forces that could be at play within a given piece of writing. Michel Foucault addresses this issue in The Discourse on Language, arguing that “in every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organized and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality” (149). Foucault supports Lotman’s view of discourse, specifically written discourse, as a manipulated cultural artifact that remembers and forgets certain information at will. Foucault continues to describe the ways in which discourse excludes and prohibits certain behaviors and prefers others, thereby quietly governing the society without the obvious participation of any one actor.

By this explanation, the decentralized nature of the Internet seems to prove its innocence of this type of hegemonic power. As described before, the Internet is a flat spatial surface, not a hierarchy. That is not to say that all new media forms are innocent of creating their own imagined realities. In his essay Encoding/Decoding Stuart Hall reveals the ways in which television promotes a dominant cultural order, a preferred system of cultural readings that explain “how things work” in society (Hall 513). The news broadcaster participates in this process by encoding messages for the audience that operate within, and help to reproduce, the dominant code (Hall 515). While textual information is of secondary importance to visual and audial information in television, it is important to acknowledge the ways in which new media still have the same capacity to promote a prevailing social reality.


Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

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Foro Italico, Milan
In post World War II Europe, the social reality that citizens craved was that of neutrality and rationality. After being ravaged by the effects of fascism, Europeans wanted a culture of transparency. This yearning for a sense of order manifested itself in, among other things, developments in typeface and graphic design. Type designers were searching for something that differed from the typefaces untilized in fascist propaganda, like those employed at the Foro Mussolini (now called the Foro Italico), one of the most renowned examples of Italian fascist architecture. The mosaic tiles on the ground of the forum display the words “molti nemici, molto onore” or “many enemies, much honor”.


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Helvetica ad in Print Magazine, 1963
In 1957 society found a solution to this problem with the typeface Akzidenz Grotesk, which would later be renamed Helvetica. Helvetica was a clean, geometric, san serif (meaning without feet, a design element employed to copy the look of handwritten letterforms) design. It felt neutral and devoid of meaning; the meaning could only be understood through the content of the word itself (Helvetica 2007). Helvetica was created by Eduard Hoffman and Max Meidinger at the Haas typefoundry in Switzerland, and was later liscenced by D. Stempel AG and marketed to America. The first advertisement for the typeface appeared in Print Magazine in 1963, with the description: “In its spare simplicity, its utter readability, its uniformity and its flawless color, Helvetica embodies and conveys an esthetic satisfaction which will outlast the vicissitudes of fashion” (Shaw 57). The attraction to Helvetica was its timelessness, its absence of culture, in a time when culture could be very problematic (Helvetica 2007).

In the 1960’s New York City necessitated the technology of a new typeface design for its subway system. The signage within subway stations up until that point was not standardized, and often very haphazard. As the subway lines extended and the rider-ship increased, demand for a logical and readable signage system became clear. It took several decades and involved multiple actors, but by the early 1990’s the entire subway system, including station names, along with a new color-coding scheme on the maps, had reinvigorated the identity of the New York City subway system (Shaw 116). As a technological form, the evolution of geometric san serif typefaces like Helvetica served an important cultural function during the post-war period. Helvetica was the perfect conveyor of data: it was clear, easily legible, and it disappeared behind the meaning of the word.

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Old...
After several decades of Helvetica as a popular graphic design option, critics are not so sure of the typeface’s neutrality. San serif typefaces, especially Helvetica, are popular in contemporary creative marketing strategies; they do not offend or exclude the reader, they appeal to everyone (Shinn 4). Nick Shinn, a current type designer laments the pervasiveness of Helvetica in his article The Face of Uniformity, citing the death of creativity in the face of mass media. Shinn goes a step further and prophesizes exactly the result that the designers and original users of Helvetica were trying to avoid: “Today, the preferred fonts are traditional, conformist, utilitarian, boring and banal — in short, a fascist aesthetic. What dupes we have become, to believe that ‘timeless and neutral’ is a virtue in a typeface!” (Shinn 4). This point of view reinforces the fact that we cannot think of any technology as independent from culture; perhaps next time we see an advertisement using the Helvetica typeface we will have a more critical opinion towards the product it is being used to sell.



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and new.















Hypertext

The visual and contextual presence of the text was altered more drastically than in any other cultural moment when it was transferred to the computer screen. It even acquired a new name: hypertext. Hypertext is the standard through which the Internet, as well as all graphical user interfaces, are visually constructed. It is also a new language; all other types of information (images, digital objects, page formats) are made up of codes written in hypertext, also known as HTML (hypertext markup language). Just as cultural theories and frameworks had changed the relationship between writer and reader in the past, the roles of both groups changed with the advent of hypertext. Instead of having the complete set of information placed before you in a book, information appears based on the choices of the reader.

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New York Times hypertext layout
Research has shown that the cognitive processes involved in reading hypertext are different from those of traditional text (Vandendorpe 134). The clicking of the mouse, like the television remote, engenders a sense of control that often results in abuse of this clicking privilege. Hypertext is often “hyperlinked” to other pages, giving us handfuls of options as to where to direct our attention next. The urgency that tends to become involved in the act of surfing the Internet can lead to transformative changes in the way we process information. According to Christian Vandendorpe, “dynamics of the web are transforming reading into a frenetic activity in which readers are constantly on the surface of the self, surfing overt the waves of the meanings offered, carried away by a kaleidoscope of images and fragments of text that are forgotten as soon as they are perceived” (134). Vandendorpe makes the mistake here of attributing these behaviors to the technological medium; we search in more surface, frenzied ways because of the societal pressures demanded of us to do things more quickly and efficiently. The sense here is that we are no longer deepening and contemplating our knowledge on a subject, which implies negative consequences. Whether negative, positive, or both, there is no denying that our purpose for reading has altered alongside the advent of hypertext. The switch to hypertext has led to the notion of the “user” replacing that of the reader. The user has agency, the user wants utility in the search for information. The task of Web designers, programmers, authors, and bloggers is to cater to the user, again changing the relationship between the conveyor of information and the recipient.


The Graphical User Interface

Software designers have used hypertext and various layout techniques in designing the GUI, or the Graphical User Interface. The GUI exists because of the user; it facilitates easy navigation and access of stored information. The original computer navigation tool was the command line, which involved typing in cumbersome codes into a box, giving you varying results. The GUI is less dependent on text than the command line, but the placement of the text on the page becomes increasing important.

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Apple's GUI for the Mac OSX
The history of typography is marked by the increasingly sophisticated use of space, and hypertext is no exception (Lupton 91). One main shift exhibited by the GUI in the display of information is one that reverts away from the narrative and towards the idea of the database. Instead of information being presented in a narrative fashion, like a novel, software designers display information in a hierarchical database where everything is carefully placed and defined. This design opposes that of the Internet, which favors the flat landscape where all information is on the same level (although the Internet is still technically a database). According to Lev Manovich, it is crucial for users to recognize the significance of these different organizational techniques in constructing the reality of the user. “Database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning of the world.” (Manovich 225). Even though the computer favors the database over the narrative, it must have some cultural significance that we are still relying on book-related metaphors to understand the parts of the computer (page, desktop, folder). Our cultural dependence on the book and the written form, even when using the computer, is still evident through the graphical user interface and all of its components.



The E-Reader

The most recent chapter in the saga of our cultural relationship with the book is revealed in the electronic reader, or the e-reader. The qualities of the e-reader as a medium for reading can tell us a lot about its cultural significance. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, posits that Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, would not have been so successful if it had been marketed as a “whizzy gizmo”, a flashy, high-tech piece of machinery (Levy 57). He attributes the popularity of the Kindle to the fact that it represents exactly the opposite: it represents a traditional book. To be accepted as a tool for reading (primarily) novels, an e-reader must have an element of “bookness”. It must embody most of the definitive qualities of the book, so that the electronic medium disappears behind the content of the literature. For this reason, the Kindle opens like a book, is tapered like a book, and has the appearance of ink like a book; some models even have a leather cover. It does not make noises, heat up, or require complex input to function. The qualities that do separate the Kindle from the book, however, are the reasons why the Kindle may replace the book as a cultural commodity. While the Kindle possesses “bookness”, it can also hold vast quantities of writing, it has adjustable font sizes, and it is light and portable. The key qualities of the original medium are carried through, and the shortcomings are remedied through technological means. The creators of the Kindle clearly understood the importance of cultural memory and the impact that a medium can have when they were designing their e-reader.


A potential problem with the gaining popularity of the e-reader is revealed when we analyze it through a mediological lens: what impact will the social reliance on the e-reader have on current institutions? Once all books are digitized, reduced to an intangible form, what will happen to the institutions that originally provided the tangible objects? What will happen to libraries and bookstores? And for that matter, since the digitization process has been going on longer in industries like music and movies, what will happen to the movie theatre and the music shop? When embracing a new medium, a new technology like the e-reader, it is important to ponder not only how that medium changes your relationship to the content (the text), but how other relationships (within cultural, political, social, or economic systems) may be changed as well.


Conclusion

By studying examples of the use of text throughout time, it becomes clear that the definition of text is not limited to any physicality; text can exist on a scroll, in a book, on a street sign, or a computer screen. Text is a vehicle for meaning, and this meaning is certainly impacted by the medium through which it is conveyed. But the problem lies in the way of thinking engendered by this fact: the medium (the technology) may have the power to affect one’s perceived experience, but it is not the medium that governs future cultural changes. By giving agency to the technological form we are blinding ourselves to the underlying forces at work behind the object. When we use a sleek and logical computer interface, Apple may be there. When we see an effective advertisement in Helvetica, a multi-million dollar corporation may be there. When we read an e-reader Amazon may be there (as well as all the booksellers, publishers, authors, and librarians that are impacted as a result).

While the physical appearance of the reading device has drastically changed over the years, this is not the aspect that cultural changes stem from. The real shift occurs in the way we search for, obtain, and process information. The types of information that were privileged in medieval Europe, or even in 1950’s America, no longer apply today. We have made the transition from thinking about knowledge as a private entity, something that is gained from authoritative institutions (the school, the church), to a public entity (something that can be attained and given out by anyone). This trend is perfectly embodied in Web sites like Wikipedia where knowledge is publicly cultivated and expanded upon all the time. There is no final gatekeeper, no licensing of information. Blogs, in the same vein, remove the authoritative power of the author. The writer and readers are equal, and the readers can comment on blog posts and communicate directly with the author, turning writing into a community activity.

The discourse surrounding the publicizing of information favors the lofty ideals of free knowledge and a community of learning, but again it behooves us to examine the issue mediologically. Jaron Lanier does just this in his manifesto You Are Not a Gadget, writing, “online culture is filled to the brim with rhetoric about what the true path to a better world ought to be, and these days its strongly biased towards an antihuman way of thinking” (Lanier 22). He gives the example of the journalism industry, an industry that embraces new information flows yet is ignorant to the ability of these flows to destroy the journalistic form as we know it. Lanier is breaking down the prevailing assumption that because the Internet is flat it is therefore free of rhetoric. We can remember Nick Shinn’s warning on the neutrality of media in regards to Helvetica, and we should approach the Internet the same way. If anything, these revelations should not frighten us, but empower us. To realize that humans are the cultural change agents, rather than technological media, we can learn to question and criticize new media forms that threaten our preferred mode of existence. We can first judge our needs and intentions, and then decide whether we want to pick up a laptop, an e-reader, or a book.


Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. Image Music Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1994.
Debray, Régis. Media Manifestos: on the Technological Transmission of Cultural Forms. London: Verso, 1996.
Debray, Régis "Qu'est-ce que la médiologie?” Trans. Martin Irvine. Le Monde Diplomatique, August 1999, p32.
Deibert, Ronald. Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation. New York: Columbia UP, 1997.
Foucault, Michel. "The Discourse on Language." Social Science Information 10 (1971): 148-62.
Hall, Stuart. Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse. Birmingham: Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham, 1973.
Helvetica. Dir. Gary Hustwit. Veer, 2007. Film.
Keen, Andrew. "The Digital Emperor Has No Clothes." Associations Now. Nov. 2007.
Lanier, Jaron. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Levy, Steven. "The Future of Reading." Newsweek 26 Nov. 2007: 57-64.
Lotman, Yuri, B.A. Uspensky, and George Mihaychuk. "On the Semiotic Mechanism of Culture." New Literary History 9.2 (1978): 211-32.
Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type: a Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2010.
Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2001.
Rabinovitz, Lauren, and Abraham Geil. Memory Bytes: History, Technology, and Digital Culture. Durham: Duke UP, 2004.
Shaw, Paul. Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story. Cambridge: MIT, 2011.
Shinn, Nick. "The Face of Uniformity.” Http:www.shinntype.com/Writing/Uniformity.pdf.
Vandendorpe, Christian. From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois, 2009.


Photo and Video Credits

Gutenberg Bible: http://lmulibrary.typepad.com/lmu-library-news/2010/05/celebrating-our-first-year-with-the-gutenberg-bible-leaf.html
Babbage's punch cards: http://history-computer.com/Babbage/AnalyticalEngine.html
Foro Italico: http://www.jameshull.com/jan26_march1.html
Visual Thesaurus: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/
1963 Helvetica poster: http://jetgirlart.com/blog/2009/01/max-miedinger-font-jocky.html
Old NYC Subway signage: http://www.aiga.org/the-mostly-true-story-of-helvetica-and-the-new-york-city-subway/
New NYC Subway signage: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/arts/04iht-design04.html?pagewanted=all
New York Times hypertext: http://www.nytimes.com/
Mac OSX Graphical User Interface: http://wong168.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/desain-antar-muka-os-tahun-1981%E2%80%932009/
Kindle commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLg817U9URM&feature=related