The Machine in the Text, and the Text in the Machine
"The Machine in the Text, and the Text in the Machine" is a review essay on Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 2008), by N. Katherine Hayles, and Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008), by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum. Both works make remarkable contributions for the emerging field of digital literary studies and for the theory of digital media. While Hayles analyses the interaction between humans and computing machines as embodied in electronic works, Kirschenbaum conceptualizes digitality at the level of inscription and establishes a social text rationale for electronic objects.
Taken together, the "electronic" in Electronic Literature and the "mechanism" in Mechanisms clearly resonate in the way they both attempt to link the deep level of machine code to the formal level of textual and metatextual code to the social level of cultural code.