The Digital Physical, Craig Mod

Reading Craig Mod’s article The Digital↔Physical, I found myself increasingly struck by his inability to see a digital creation as something with weight, both physically and figuratively. It seems that Mod required a physical object in order to bring meaning the the work that he and his teammates had accomplished, that without this object with edges and mass there would have been nothing to immortalize and signify their time and effort. Maybe it’s partially because I have the sneaking suspicion that Flipboard for iPhone was simply a vehicle for Mod to write an article about the app he created (rather than this idea of a required affirmation of one’s own work), but I find the idea that the time and effort behind digital creations is lost because of their digital (rather than physical) nature to be kind of ridiculous. While Mod may think it is the book that is magical, I would say far more people intuit that technological creations can be incredibly time-consuming to produce and require a vast knowledge, if not years of studying (programming, etc.). While many people do not know how to code, there seems to be a cultural understanding that programming is time-consuming and difficult, not to mention that the creation of apps is a living process, with update after update after update. In this way, not only is the weight of the creation understood by the public, the journey as Mod calls it, is also visible through updates.

I know that Mod said the book was a creation of the producer, not the public, but why would he have such a hard time putting value on his own creation when most of modern society wouldn’t?

To disagree with an extremely specific point, when Mod states that “a folder with one item looks just like a folder with a billion items,” I find myself incredibly confused. A folder with many items and a folder with one item do not look or feel the same at all. And in fact, one of the main reasons they don’t feel the same can be provided by Mod himself: “with most of our current interfaces, we see at best only a screenful of information” It is this inability to see all the information that creates an entirely different feeling in the viewer. One folder is manageable and encouraging, and the other seems infinite and daunting. And if Mod were to tell someone that he had 9,695 documents in a folder I’m pretty sure they would see the weight of this work.

1 thought on “The Digital Physical, Craig Mod

  1. You’ve hit upon a tension that arises when we put all of this week’s reading in conversation with each other: it’s a tension between the seemingly immaterial image on the screen and the undeniable physical object (as in Kirschenbaum); the tension between hidden labor and marginalized culture (McPherson), and the tension between technological prowess and technological nostalgia (Bolter). All in all, a good place to start our class discussion!

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