How We Think: A Digital Companion

N. Katherine Hayles

When the University of Chicago Press published my print book, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis in spring 2012, I had in hand certain digital assets that I had developed for the analyses of some of the chapters, yet whose scope far exceeded what could be included in the print book. Moreover, most of this material did not appear in raw form in the book; rather, included were summaries and conclusions based on the much more voluminous data. This meant that readers could not test my analyses by accessing the data and drawing their own conclusions; nor could they reconfigure it to ask new kinds of questions that may not have occurred to me. How We Think: A Digital Companion aims to open this archive to everyone, whether they have read the print book or not. For readers familiar with the print book, this website will serve to test, extend, and possibly refute some of my interpretations; for others, the archive may lead them back to the print book or to entirely other paths where they will formulate their own questions and come to conclusions I have not anticipated.

The central theme of How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis is that we think through, with, and alongside digital media, and that our intense engagements with them have profound neurological, biological, and psychological consequences, as well as obvious social, economic, institutional and political effects. Each chapter explores this proposition through a specific lens, from transformed protocols for academic research and pedagogy, to attentional economies, to changed perceptions of space and time, to the interactions of narrative and database in contemporary print and electronic novels. This website presents material for readers to explore some of these themes by constructing their own lens through which to construct questions and arrive at their own answers.

The first section, entitled “Interviews on the Digital Humanities,” presents the audio files of the twenty interviews I conducted with scholars prominent in the Digital Humanities and that forms the basis for Chapter Two in the print book.. These files can be accessed through the name of the interviewee or through an index showing the central themes discussed in the interviews. Clicking on a theme will bring up a list of all the people who discussed that theme, and clicking on a name will take the user to the place in the audio file where that theme is discussed. The index serves the further prupose of showing at a glance the range of topics covered in all the interviews as a whole.

The second section, entitled “Telegraph Code Books,” presents an easy-to-use interface that for the first time makes it possible to search digital scans of these historically important books as a group, discussed in Chapter 5 of the print book.

The third and final section, entitled “Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions,” provides various digital assets discussed in Chapter 8 and Coda of my print book, including an interactive map of Sam’s and Hailey’s accounts of their road trip, respectively, a digital file of the book’s long narrative poem that allows full-text searching, and a digital image of a large print poster that Danielewski published in Inculte Magazine, based on notes about the novel that he prepared for its translation into French.

This website has involved the work of many hands, recognized in the Credits. Here I would like to mention my chief collaborator, Allen Beye Riddell, who is the project manager and whose work make this project possible. I would also like to acknowledge the generous support given for this project by the Franklin Humanities Center in the form of a Digital Publishing grant, which made everything else possible.


Interviews »

Credits »

Praise for N. Katherine Hayles:

“Hayles is a rare and welcome voice. . . . a leading writer on the interplay between science and literature.” —New Scientist

“One book by Hayles is the equivalent of any five by the competition.” —Science Fiction Studies

“Hayles has once again produced a compelling synthesis of highly complex, widely scattered discourses. . . . The achievement is formidable.” —American Book Review

“Hayles’s work is admirable in its open-ended, open-minded engagement of a continuously changing intellectual and artistic field.” —Electronic Book Review