Drucker, Johanna. “The Book as Call and Conditional Texts.”

Drucker, Johanna. “The Book as Call and Conditional Texts.” Boulder Pavement.
Boulderpavement: Arts and Ideas. 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Feb. 2014


Drucker argues that our common understanding of a book as a fixed, static text 1.) is and always has been an illusion, and 2.) is increasingly outdated and misguided as web texts change how knowledge is produced and consumed. She points out that we are dealing more often with conditional texts determined by our specific time, place, and context. This creates documents, such as search results, that can never be truly reproduced. Working with texts that exist in such constant flux, raises questions of “preservation and access,” as well as ontological and phenomenological questions about the very existence of the texts we use.

Key words: Archives, Conditional text, postcustodial archival work, book, author, archival studies


Sue McKemmish, “Placing Records Continuum Theory and Practice,” Archival Science 1: 333-359 (2003)

Frank Upward, “Structuring the Records Continuum—Part One: Postcustodial principles and properties

“A book will be an interface, a richly networked portal, organized along lines of inquiry in which primary source materials, secondary interpretations, witnesses and evidence, are all available, incorporated made accessible for use.”
“The result is not so much an ordering as a scattering, the refraction of any text into myriad facets so that no text ever appears as a single, intact, defined phenomenon, but always as a multiplicitous result of combinatoric circumstances and happenstances.”

“The perspective of archival studies, informatics, and digital data curation brings other considerations into the understanding of the identity of texts and complications brought on by digital and networked media (in which questions of “when” and “where” a text is come into play alongside traditional questions of what or which text to rely on).”

“However convenient it remains as a portable and defined package, the book as a compositional idea is obsolete in contrast to that of a query to a field of emerging content. Which is not to suggest, at all, that book-ness as an idea about the bound and delimited nature of a literary composition will disappear, just that it will configure itself differently—as a call and as the production of a conditional text.”


“How will we think and write, become internally colonized by the form and formats of these reconfiguring texts, until they become our way of producing work from experience and thought and turning it into expression and communication? What kind of poetics will be released and required to discipline (or not) the design of work in this mode? How will we think literary forms anew through data structures and processes whose full capacities many of us have yet to embrace? What fluencies and exigencies will combine to create a generative tension in the flows of excess and needs for definition, selection, elimination that make form?”