WE ARE ALL LINKED BY TEXT: THE FORMATION AND CONTINUATION OF TEXTUAL COMMUNITIES ONLINE
In “The Social Life of Documents”, John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid bring up the point about how documents have the capability to bring groups of people together to form communities and also that we are all “linked by text”. These communities can be of a multitude of different subjects and pertain to a wide variety of people. Now in 2017 it is more evident than ever that documents/texts whatever shape or form they are in have the capability to bring people together and create conversation and debate. Look no further than online digital resources. These digital resources located online have the ability to “link” one another together to help form these communities. Specifically, with the creation of the “Transcribe Bentham”, in September of 2010, “Trump Archive” and the “Trump Twitter Archive” created within the past year it is evident that through the use of online digital resources the formation of textual communities can be created.
An online digital resource that “links” people together integrates well with Duguid and Browns point; this is evident with the online digital resource “Transcribe Bentham”, which was created in 2010 and is associated with the University College London (UCL). This is a digital resource that, “aims is to engage the public in the online transcription of original and unstudied manuscript papers written by Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)” (“Transcribe Bentham”).
To examine further the point of the formation, this digital resource was essentially started up by a university for the sole purpose of Jeremy Benthams unpublished manuscripts not being legible. It was formed and brought to fruition as a result of text. The manuscripts can be viewed by everybody and the online digital resource allows anybody to come try and help transcribe Jeremy Bentham’s works. The point of being “linked by text” comes to light in the form of how on this digital resource anybody can transcribe something and they can work on transcribing manuscripts with other people. This online digital resource is heavily reliable on the outside contribution of random people to help make Bentham’s work legible. An online community was built with the creation of this website as anybody can help transcribe and the website creators have made it very easy for users to interact with moderators. This online digital resource was created by professors that work at the University College London and is used by schools to “exposes learners to original historical manuscripts while promoting core skills. It encourages the use of archival collections in schools and targets all three learning groups — visual, aural and kinesthetic” (“Transcribe Bentham”). By doing this the formation of a textual community is created as now multiple can work together to help uncover what Jeremy Bentham was saying in all these unpublished, untranscribed manuscripts.
“America has become the land of unfree and the home of depraved” (Gersh 2016), this quote coming from a news outlet in New York.
Donald Trump’s campaign, victory and current presidency has stirred up a storm and the and essentially everybody around the world, specifically people of colour and members of the LGBT community are swirling right through it. With Trumps success a new wave of online communities have now be created and formed, these being created on behalf of certain groups views upon recent events, meaning Trump and everything he stands for. Specifically the “Trump Archive”, which created in November of 2016 (right around the time when he was elected) specifically serves the purpose of collecting any information about “debates, speeches, rallies, and other broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump” (“Trump Archive”). All this information is collected by people and are fact-checked to prove that what he is either saying is true or not. Upon seeing these fact-checked videos and texts users can interact with one another via the comment section. Switching gears now to talk about Duguid and Brown’s point, they make
note of a “dart” in “The Social Life of Documents”, which according to them means “carrying pre-formed “ideas” or “information” through space and time” (Brown and Duduid). This type of online digital resource is essentially the “dartboard” and the people are the “dart”. People find the instances in which he speaks on certain topics, they post them, get them fact-checked, then after begins the process of everybody being “linked by text”. Everybody forms their own opinion and posts about it, which then allows other people to see it and then form further opinions on that. Which causes the process to be continuous creating what Duguid and Brown call the “Social World”. This type of digital resource only comes into fruition because of the questionable things that he says, it most likely would not have even been invented if everybody believed what he said.
Sticking with the idea of Donald Trump, he often tends to write and display questionable things on his Twitter account. Because of his victory in the election this has prompted the creation of the “Trump Twitter Archive” to be created. People collect these tweets that he puts out and they are put onto this website and grouped together in terms of subject matter and can accessed via clicking on the links. This will redirect the user onto Twitter, which will then
allow them to view the tweet. Today, everything can be seen online, and if Trump says anything that may be deemed discriminatory towards anybody it gets passed down from person to person. And when everybody sees what he as said everybody forms an opinion on it causing these groups to be formed who seem to appose each other, this showing how we are all “linked by text”. This archival website engages the public in the finding and grouping of Trumps tweets regarding subject matter. Upon being redirected to Twitter the user will then be able to interact with anybody on what he has said. It starts with Trump then gets passed down from person to person, whether on social media or any other form of media outlet until the point when everybody knows about and forms their own opinion on it. This is when the “communities” or “groups” begin to form and as a result of that, the creation of the textual online digital resources start to arise.
According to “The Social Life of Documents”, documents whatever shape or form they are in have the ability to create groups or communities. It is evident that social events as well as famous people have a major impact on the influence and creation of the online digital resources. Major aspects of these digital resources rely on the contribution of random people to help maintain and contribute to their purpose. The idea proposed by Duguid and Brown is evident in the online digital resources discussed, the idea of everybody being “linked by text” is shown in these resources as they allow for interaction amongst users. The formation on textual communities comes to fruition when there is enough interest in that certain subject matter.
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