The case of the bold button: Social shaping of technology and the digital scholarly edition

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The role and usage of a certain technology is not imparted wholesale on the intended user community—technology is not deterministic. Rather, a negotiation between users and the designers of the technology will result in its particular form and function. This article considers a side effect of these negotiations. When a certain known technology is used to convey a new technological concept or model, there is a risk that the paradigm associated by the users with the known technology will eclipse the new model and its affordances in part or in whole. The article presents a case study of this ‘paradigmatic regression’ centering on a transcription tool of the Huygens Institute in the Netherlands. It is argued that similar effects also come into play at a larger scale within the field of textual scholarship, inhibiting the exploration of the affordances of new models that do not adhere to the pervasive digital metaphor of the codex. An example of such an innovative model, the knowledge graph model, is briefly introduced to illustrate the point.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)898
Number of pages910
JournalDSH. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities
Issue number4
Early online date08 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2016


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