BeerSphere is Here!
Motrin Palimpsest

Digital Palimpsests


[Taken somewhere in Rio]

Yesterday I updated the previous post but as well as adding a couple of lines at the bottom I re-wrote some of the body text, in a way that indicates it has been re-written - I turned the post into a palimpsest.

And then I began to see them everywhere.

A palimpsest is a manuscript that has been overwritten. It comes from way way back in the day when parchment or vellum was expensive and durable so scribes would scrape off what had been written and write over it. But, inevitably, trace of what was there are left behind, making the new text an iterative build on the previous.

A wall of street art is an urban version - each work builds on / writes over the other. Toilet door graffiti is the same.

In the digital world, everything is a palimpsest.

Wikis are pure - each overwrite can completely erase what came before or it can build on it, add and comment.

But all digital content can be re-written. I can go back and change any post. Any video or image can be retroactively altered, overwritten. Digital content exists in constant flux.

This builds on the idea that content is a process, the beginning of a conversation, a substrate for additional creation.

Endlessly iterative, with each iteration adding some new element, some new lease of life to the original.

Each remix is simply the next step in an ongoing journey through recombinant culture.

Content becomes conversation.

Layer tennis is a literal expression of this - creative consequences for CS3 - but any piece of digital content should be considered as a palimspsest from the outset. 

Whether or not you want them too, someone will have something to add.