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January 15, 2009


William Hone, Jr.

I have been trying to define the appeal of cabinets of curiosities and similar phenomena, such as digital commonplace books. Here's my current take on the subject.

Internet wonder rooms and their near kin, commonplace books, stand in relation to cyber archives and portals and libraries as medieval chronicles are to historical narratives. The following quotation from a recent article in Invisible Culture alerts those of us who like to dwell among texts of the latent capacity these sites have for enunciation.

Like web- sites and cyber- spaces ,in the past the commonplace book was also understood as a place where readers/writers might "dwell" among texts, eventually generating texts of their own making. Here, it is important to emphasize that the reference to "place" in commonplace is derived from the Greek topos . The double meaning of topos – site and topic (or argument) – is especially significant when thinking about the commonplace book as an archival genre. Both the commonplace book and the archive can be understood as places where texts and textual fragment are housed, and as sites of enunciation, or places where narratives are generated.
Kate Eichhorn, "Archival Genres: Gathering Texts and Reading Spaces," Invisible Culture 12 (May 2008) : http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture

In my opinion, in their pure forms internet wonder rooms contain plots without stories. That is to say they are blogs without personal narrative.

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