Today, I found several writing instruction books from the 18th and 17th centuries that would indicate that through the 18th c. one was instructed to “write as one speaks.” John Howell seems to have written a composition book in 1645, which is a book of letters. He also wrote a book entitled _Dendrologia_, which is a book about trees talking (?) [it is also an early travel book]. I also came across a Charlotte Lennox novel that I had not read entitled _History of the Marquis of Lussan and Isabella_ (1764). It is written in the first person from the perspective of the Marquis. There were three collections of letters that I came across: the first the Howell’s, which is entitled Epistolae Ho-Elianae (_Familiar Letters_), which is then quoted in the 1778 _The Complete Letter Writer_, which is organized by subject (business, duty, amusement, love, courtship, marriage, friendship, and other subjects, as opposed to the earlier book, the 1763 _Ladies’ Complete Letter Writer_ which is organized by audience/addressee.
And? What was the point of today? Wasn’t I supposed to be working on my “digital materialities” paper in which I explain why I plan to talk about what I want to talk about (writing as a medium) rather than about ANT and the materialities of digital objects? The day began with the understanding that “it is all about” ontology and phenomenology. This is a very academic way of saying the world is about things, i.e., physical objects, and how we perceive them. Great!
Tomorrow, I hope to get some writing done. I’ve been doing too much reading and not enough writing. Today, I was taken back into my speaking/writing paper, which I still do not have the faintest idea what to do with even though the subject seems to be one that people are interested in and Josiah Zayner, who works at NASA, recently published a paper on the similarities between tweeting and talking. I found that paper because I became interested in a 1974 paper by James Stalker on writing as a dialect of English. Materiality, speaking, writing, redundancy, ambiguity, reading practices, publishing practices. Hmmmm. Where is all of this going? I don’t know. I could publish the letters from the ladies letter writing guide book on my fictional mom.com site. I could write some more science fiction informed by the latest in biological technologies. But, as Joanna Russ wrote many decades ago, “To write about technologies is to ask the wrong questions.” So what am I doing? What do I have to say? I also watched an interesting video today about the reconstruction of the first digital computer, the 1939 Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), “the first electronic digital computer built. In this video, we learn how the modules in the ABC operate in parallel and have a modular construction. We’re also given a demonstration of how the ABC works.” (http://www.wimp.com/importantcomputer/) Oh right! The day started with “word processing.” The history of word processing and the Flexowriter, which was a California company acquired(?) by Singer that made paper tape word processors/typewriters. My ultimate point was that we are writing for an audience of machines as soon as we start using machines to write with. Machine languages are 100% code. They are numbers.