- Nov 2023
25Hypertext Avant La LettrePeter Krapp
Krapp, Peter. “Hypertext Avant La Lettre.” In New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader, edited by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Thomas W. Keenan, 1st ed., 432–51. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Samizdat copy available at: https://www.krapp.org/pdf/hypertextavant.pdf.
- May 2023
- Apr 2022
According to Krapp, admissions like this, along with Barthes’inclusion of facsimiles of his cards in Roland Barthes by RolandBarthes, are all part of Barthes ‘outing’ his card catalogue as ‘co-author of his texts’ (Krapp, 2006: 363). The precise wording of thisformulation – designating the card index as ‘co-author’ – and theagency it ascribes to these index cards are significant in that theysuggest a usage that extends beyond mere memory aid to formsomething that is instrumental to the very organisation of Barthes’ideas and the published representations of these ideas.
Krapp argues that, despite its ‘respectablelineage’, the card index generally ‘figures only as an anonymous,furtive factor in text generation, acknowledged – all the way into thetwentieth century – merely as a memory crutch’ (361).2 A keyreason for this is due to the fact that the ‘enlightened scholar isexpected to produce innovative thought’ (361); knowledgeproduction, and any prostheses involved in it, ‘became and remaineda private matter’ (361).
'Memory crutch' implies a physical human failing that needs assistance rather than a phrase like aide-mémoire that doesn't draw that same attention.
Wittgenstein from his ‘Zettel’, a box containing over 700 textfragments (or ‘scraps’) and other loose pages (Krapp, 2006: 362).
Ludwig Wittgenstein had a box, which he apparently called his 'Zettel' in which he kept over 700 text fragments or scraps and other loose pages.
Double check this reference for a translation error from German as Zettel is the 'slip' and kasten is the 'box', 'crate', or 'container'.
In a remarkable essay on precursors to hypertext, Peter Krapp(2006) provides a useful overview of the development of the indexcard and its use by various thinkers, including Locke, Leibniz, Hegel,and Wittgenstein, as well as by those known to Barthes and part of asimilar intellectual milieu, including Michel Leiris, Georges Perec,and Claude Lévi-Strauss (Krapp, 2006: 360-362; Sieburth, 2005).1
Peter Krapp created a list of thinkers including Locke, Leibniz, Hegel, Wittgenstein, Barthes, Michel Leiris, Georges Perec, and Lévi-Strauss who used index cards in his essay Hypertext Avant La Lettre on the precursors of hypertext.
see also: Krapp, P. (2006) ‘Hypertext Avant La Lettre’, in W. H. K. Chun & T. Keenan (eds), New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader. New York: Routledge: 359-373.
Notice that Krapp was the translator of Paper Machines About Cards & Catalogs, 1548 – 1929 (MIT Press, 2011) by Marcus Krajewski. Which was writing about hypertext and index cards first? Or did they simply influence each other?
Krapp, P. (2006) ‘Hypertext Avant La Lettre’, in W. H. K. Chun & T.Keenan (eds), New Media, Old Theory: A History and Theory Reader.New York: Routledge: 359-373.
- want to read
- Michel Leiris
- index cards
- card index for writing
- Georges Perec
- Claude Lévi-Strauss
- memory crutch
- Roland Barthes
- Marcus Krajewski
- Peter Krapp
- paper machines
- external scaffolding
- card index as co-author
- external structures for thought
- Georg Hegel
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
- note taking