Saturday, February 22, 2020

Undoing the digital

Reading through the proofs of our new book Undoing the Digital is an interesting experience that throws up a whole range of reactions and feelings. These are probably familiar to many academic colleagues - perhaps to writers in general - but I've never come across much on the topic. What a mixed bag my reactions are, though! There's a familiar sense of achievement - Cathy and I delivered our manuscript, on time, and there's the proof in the requisite number of words, little black congregations of symbols spread fairly evenly across a respectable number of white pages. That's a good feeling - perhaps not quite as good as the feeling of holding the printed thing - what we call, rather anachronistically, the book itself, but nearly as good. And then there's the reading of it. Quite good at first, well at least not bad, and then the bits that don't quite follow on - or aren't fully formed or sufficiently well expressed, the bits where you would like to have another go, but sadly it's too late for that. Then there's the bits that are just about OK, not strikingly original of course, but just about all right (oh, and of course, one or two embarrassing bits - but heigh-ho best put that in brackets!). And in one or two parts there is the sense that we're saying something new as opposed to simply rephrasing or rehearsing our understanding of other people's work. After all it's so hard, as I think Deleuze once said, to come up with anything that's truly original. But the good news is that this volume brings together the ideas that Cathy and I have been working with over the last five years. And that's a set of ideas or conceptual tools that are deployed in papers we've published in that period of time, smuggled in somewhat awkwardly under the  flag of 'sociomaterialism' - the best we can do to give a general sense of where we're coming from. I suppose we've always felt that the journal article format for all its strengths doesn't really offer the opportunity to explore things in full detail. We hope that the book does that, we hope readers enjoy it, and we hope it provides some background context to what's already 'out there'. It's currently carrying an April publication date, so it should materialise in May and it can be pre-ordered!