Interface poetics: A review of Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound by Lori Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Colleges, School and Institutes


Review of Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota ISBN: 9780816691265 232 pages, 41 b&w photos 2014 In his review of the iPhone 6 for The Guardian, the writer, broadcaster, comedian and “Twitter personality” Stephen Fry expressed all kinds of awe and wonderment at the advancements Apple had made. The iPhone 6s are, for Fry, not only ‘utterly gorgeous objects […] of absolutely exquisite dimensions, heft and feel’, but their high end audio, display and camera specs are by turns ‘ravishing’ and ‘devastating’. Fry winds up the piece with a reference to the iPhone’s new WiFi capabilities: There’s barely space for me to talk about the extraordinary new Wi-Fi calling option, which allows you to hold a conversation using wireless at home or the office and continue seamlessly as you move out of WiFi range—allowing the LTE (4G) mobile network (EE in the UK’s case) to take over without a blip with Voiceover LTE. Writing before the iPhone 6 launch Lori Emerson dryly notes, ‘[i]deally, the seamlessness of ubiquitous computing devices will make even choice itself recede into the background. In the imagined near future, things will simply happen and we will simply do’ (3). Although Reading Writing Interfaces, Emerson’s first monograph, is primarily a media archaeological dig amongst the ruins of media poetics—Dom Sylvester Houéard’s “typestracts”, Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ web poetics, Emily Dickinson’s fascicle volumes [1]—it is also a consistently careful, timely, and emphatic rebuke of the writing of the tech industry itself, and the incantatory logic of seamlessness and ubiquity as progress.


Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational Culture: a journal of software studies
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016