Notes, Lists and Everyday Inscriptions is a Digital Commons summer school in the cultural studies tradition…

“In this cluster of The New Everyday we examine new everyday inscriptions, both the scholarly and the utterly mundane — from the grocery list to the collaboratively organized and annotated archive.”

I’ve just contributed a short ‘starter’ bibliography on the culture and history of lists.

There’s a lot of attention in the starter essays to list-making, since lists and sets of structured notes serve as a reflection and extension of personhood. Also attention to lists as constructions of ranked authenticity, part and parcel of the individual attempt to win the cultural capital that will contribute to the raising of one’s social rank. What I would also find interesting is thinking that would help deepen our cultural understanding of the automated lists that so imperfectly reflect only our chosen input terms. I’d like to pay attention to what happens so fleetingly, at the magical/mundane point of delivery for Google search results. Academics generally and somewhat lazily consider that we all have an intuitive understanding of lists and the treasure hunts they can provoke, and that the “important learning stuff” only starts to happen in our brain after at some point after we abstract selected search results into various forms of self-selected storage — bookmarks, unstructured Notepad notes, our HTML editor, our “send link by email” widget, Zotero, etc. But in a very real sense, searching is learning. Can cultural studies contribute to a deeper understanding of the powerful but invisible genre of communication/learning that is the ubiquitous list of ten blue Web links?