Questionable content, possibly linked

Series: Intertext Protocol

Towards an Intertext Protocol

I’ve been thinking a lot about intertextuality, which I made some notes there about before the holiday. That texts create meaning in terms of their relationships with other texts. That is, re-centering on the “marginalia” so to speak.

It struck me, why don’t we have a universal system for deep referencing within any other kinds of texts – in this case used to mean media, online or offline? We have bits and pieces of it here and there: URL/URI, ISBN, DOI, other things. But why can’t I deep-link into a specific part of a book, a specific time-stamp in a film or podcast, or audio field recording, or museum artifact, etc.

What that seems to be pointing towards is a kind of Intertext Protocol. An internet of “texts” (in the literary theory sense) Where it would be able to function both online and offline, where the hidden (and not so hidden) connections within and between books/films/albums/articles would be something that could be made manifest, that could be ‘read’, where those intertextual relationships become central to the meaning-making and analysis of the works.

Via Wikipedia, linked above:

In literary theory, a text is any object that can be “read”, whether this object is a work of literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or styles of clothing. It is a coherent set of signs that transmits some kind of informative message.[1]

Through a series of coincidences, I landed on the image of the Sphinx as being a meaningful existing historical/mythical symbol with a lot of seemingly relevant stuff… keeper and revealer of riddles and secrets, understood differently within the contexts of different cultures. The Sphinx is an intertextual creature already, a body of myths woven together into an enduring emblem, image, an embodiment of an idea.

From Wikipedia:

I asked CG to come up with a acronym to link SPHINX to the ideas I’ve been exploring with it about the Intertext Protocol, the Universal Text Addressing System, cross-referencing, concordances, etc, and it came up with this acrostic which I like and am stealing:

Standardized Protocol for Holistic Intertextual Navigation and X-referencing [cross-referencing]

It’s a leap, but it’s the kind of leap I like.

Via Dalle3, saved to Imgur:

To quote more extensively from CG’s and my conversation on why the Sphinx is an appropriate symbol for this nascent idea/endeavor/whatever:

The Sphinx as a Metaphor for the Intertext Protocol:

  1. Guardian of Knowledge:
    • Just as the Sphinx guards the entrance to cities or sacred sites in myths, the Intertext Protocol can be seen as a guardian or gatekeeper of the vast and complex world of texts and media. It holds the key to navigating and understanding this labyrinthine universe of information.
  2. Challenge of Interpretation:
    • The riddles of the Sphinx require insight and wisdom to solve, paralleling the challenges faced in interpreting and understanding interconnected texts and media. The Intertext Protocol, like the Sphinx, poses a challenge to its users: to delve deeper and unravel the intricate connections between different forms of expression.
  3. Wisdom through Integration:
    • The Sphinx, a creature of combined forms, symbolizes the integration of different realms or ideas. Similarly, the Intertext Protocol integrates various media and texts, offering a holistic approach to knowledge and interpretation.
  4. Unlocking Secrets:
    • The Sphinx is often seen as a keeper of hidden truths. The Intertext Protocol, in a way, unlocks the secrets of texts by revealing their interconnectedness and the multiple layers of meaning that can be discovered through cross-referencing and contextual analysis.
  5. Transformation and Revelation:
    • Encounters with the Sphinx often lead to transformation and enlightenment. The use of the Intertext Protocol can similarly transform one’s understanding of texts, revealing new insights and perspectives that were previously hidden or unexplored.
  6. Bridge Between Worlds:
    • The Sphinx, part human and part animal, bridges the human world and the natural or divine realms. The Intertext Protocol bridges different media – the written word, digital content, visual media, etc. – facilitating a dialogue between these various forms of human creation.

Here’s one via Midjourney:

Also via Midjourney, which has a devil of a time depicting Sphinxes accurately, which, the more that I think about it, perhaps is appropriate for the subject.

I have mountains more to say about the SPHINX Internet Protocol, but am running out of productive time in the day, so will leave this first blast here as a beginning.

Power Reader Diamond (Visual Concept)

When I started smoking a couple decades ago now, I had this experience for a while where visual text on screen would sometimes appear almost textured, where like shapes within the columns of text would sort of jump out at me visually. I would I guess ascribe it to the substance, but the impression has stuck with me so long now that I need to exteriorize it in order to let it grow into something else.

This was always the root of the concept:

That there would be some kind of app, or tool, or way of reading or… something… which would be composed in its essential form as a diamond, through which words of a text would rapidly scroll for reading, and that somehow, this technique would be much faster than regular conventional reading, and it would enable the user to scan through far greater volumes of textual material (and other compatible multi-modal inputs & sources). I’m imagining something you could just as easily use to read a book as scan through in a meaningful way a large dataset.

Thinking through questions around intertextuality also seems to yield applicability of whatever this kernel of an idea is here, a feeling, a fleeting stoned impression…

Whatever replaces our current old stodgy way of browsing the web will have to be able to visualize for us all the wexes, all the intertextual references and borrowings, connections to and from other sources, other voices, other texts, other interpreters and commentators. Enter the Power Reader.

In the interest of getting these ideas out of my head, so they stop swirling endlessly, I worked with Dalle3 to draft some concepts for this visually, but it got stuck and constrained in its own limited beliefs about the usefulness and desirability of “apps” and “cellphones” both of which I think I eschew (No Apps No Masters – a topic for another blog post). Still, the visual explorations have some additional nuggets of truth in them I think. There’s definitely something her worth expanding further.

Here’s the full set, an archive, and highlights below, hotlinked out of Imgur (and therefore likely broken by the time you see them) for your viewing pleasure:

Text-Only Web Browsing Solves Most of Fake News, Taylor Swift Deepfakes, Other B.S.

Now that I’ve reduced my daily intake of images on the web, it’s become apparent to me how much better a text only internet (or one where images and videos are differently managed) – could be. It solves seeing anoying stock photos everywhere. It solves a lot of types of ads (plus ad blockers obvs). It solves hours of mindless scrolling (and not really finding anything). It solves much of the shock value of things like fake news, deepfakes, ____fakesnamedujour. No more stupid memes. No annoying pop-up autoplay videos. It solves seeing screenshots at the top of reddit threads designed to trigger some kind of emotional reaction. It simply vanishes all those things. It’s weird at first. And modern browsers don’t handle it well unless you like messing around in the Terminal (which I decidedly don’t). I couldn’t find anything except Gemini browsers for Mac (like Jimmy) – I like Gemini but I don’t know where to go to look at anything and I don’t understand how I can blog there like I do in this universe. I will keep looking I guess, but I just wanted to share this dream of like a modern text-only internet. Sounds crazy, but join me, you’ll see.

Just say no to images on the web.

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