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Silicon Valley Talks: Raja Adal

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Silicon Valley Talks: Raja Adal

Thursday, October 19, 2023
12pm to 1pm PT

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Hohbach Hall, 122
557 Escondido Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
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Join the Silicon Valley Archives in welcoming Raja Adal on October 19 in Hohbach Hall.  

Rethinking the Role of the Printing Press and Typewriter Outside of the World of Latin Characters: A Large-Scale Analysis of Writing and Reproduction Technologies in the Mitsui Mi’ike Mine Archive, 1889-1941

Over the last few decades, the history of the book, of bureaucratic cultures, and of information societies has introduced us to the centrality of printing presses and typewriters in European and North American offices. This presentation explores the material history of writing outside of the world of Latin characters through the indexing of one of the largest business archives in modern Japan, the Mitsui Mi’ike Mine archive. Over several years, this indexing project ordered the 38,096 pages in this archive into 20,713 individual documents, categorized according to criteria that reveal the practice of document production, circulation, storage, and consumption in the offices of a large Japanese firm over the course of a half century from 1889 to 1941. Although the printing press and typewriter have a role in the offices of the Mitsui Mi’ike Mine, when we look not at discourses but at practices, it turns out that in a society in which most texts are composed of thousands of logographic and phonographic symbols, writing and reproduction technologies other than the printing press and typewriter are much more prominent. Through the large-scale analysis of the Mitsui Mi’ike Mine archive, this presentation begins to chart a theory of the practice of writing and reproduction, from the brush to Unicode, in the context of global scripts.