Consider this. I am the sum of my readings, my immediate surroundings and my experiences. I am also what I write and read on the Web. I constantly transverse analog and digital realms, textual and non-textual fabrics. Such dynamics helps me enrich my life and the Web with an expanded field of relationships where newly connected dots emerge and I recognize texts as focal points of much greater and deeper processes. Processes that organically weave the fabrics of text-to-text, conversation-to-conversation, computer-to-computer interactions. Processes that allow for brand new cognitive experiences and thought adventures, seeking and ready to connect and make a difference, somewhere in, or between, the lines.
I am an intertextual animal.
Aren’t we all?
For many years now, we have been putting thoughts into words and onto the Web, creating ripples of text all arounds us. And while reading and writing our ways towards shared understanding and collaborative sense-making is by far not new a practice, the scale and the speed at which this happens online, together the dimensions of the spaces it unfolds in, are different.
We have existed and thought by texts for a long time, but never before have we left so many traceable text footprints, sui generis maps of thinking out online to help each other’s own knowledge quests. On the Web, we heavily depend on the written word and language as code – both the coldly logical one of our machines, and that, the wildly ambiguous and impossible to firmly codify, of us, humans. With words rippling across the neural networks of our computers and minds, we constantly engage in encoding and decoding messages, in creating and dismantling contexts, in constructing and deconstructing text pieces.
Straddling the vast fields of the written word online, and ourselves leaving trails of words and symbols on them, we live and embody the term intertextuality at its fullest.
This was an excerpt from the essay “The Intertextual Animal”, part of my book The Brave New Text: Perspectives on Web Writing.