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Russian history continually brings me surprises. Just the other day, I learned (via the Austerity Kitchen blog on the New Inquiry, written by Christine Baumgarthuber) that Russian soldiers occupying Paris after the defeat of Napoleon brought about a new culinary term with their demands that restaurants deliver their ordered food and drink Быстро, or quickly, hence bistro. Simon Franklin, in his recent Kritika article titled 'Mapping the Graphosphere', informed me that the Interior Ministry of Russia produced over 30 million printed documents by the mid-19th century. While instances of French culture being shaped by Russian influence are certainly worthy of deeper examination, a la bistro, it was Franklin's statement, indeed his entire article, which captured my greater attention.
Why? Because I'm in the midst of preparing a presentation for the upcoming Theorizing the Web 2012 Conference (#TtW12) and my topic, looking at evidence of textual dualist and textual augmented reality conceptions used in Imperial Russia, directly concerns the analysis of Franklin and his concept of the 'Graphosphere' (of which the Ministry of Interior and its 30 million documents was but a part). I want to spend this first post of two introducing Franklin's argument and exploring its implication for our understanding of augmented effects brought about by the emergence and coexistence of print and manuscript cultures.
Defined as the "totality of graphic devices used to record, store, display and disseminate messages and information, and the social and cultural spaces in which they figure," Franklin goes on to say that the Graphosphere has both external and internal boundaries. Whereas previous scholars pursued exploration of the outer boundaries' expansion into spaces either new or already colonized by traditional non-graphic communicative methods (i.e. oral), the goal of 'Mapping the Graphosphere' is to investigate the internal boundaries between graphic methods, such as the interaction between print and manuscript. This approach yields several valuable insights, particularly when one applies the observations Franklin makes towards further elaborating essential properties and operations of an augmented reality operating under textual auspices. While the in-depth article is an extremely good read (Kritika, in general, publishes outstanding articles), I want to focus, below, on particular points that I plan to integrate into my #TtW12 presentation.
To begin, Franklin makes a very astute observation that I believe should be repeated early and often (to borrow and remix a famous phrase about voters) regarding the interplay of culture plurality, i.e. multiple print cultures, multiple manuscript cultures:
"There may be one or several cultures using a given technology, and in each of those cultures the interrelations among technologies may function similarly or differently. Such are some of the basic issues in the study of the internal boundaries of the graphosphere." 
Contrasting this view with the 'positivist' genealogy proffered by traditional accounts, in which pre-modern oral/manuscript monoculture became superseded by the modern arrival of print monoculture (that, in turn, became displaced by digital media), Franklin turns the implication of this line of inquiry towards interpretation of Russian graphic culture:
"When the assumptions of this model are applied to Russia, they lead to a foregrounding of the fact that the introduction, assimilation, and dissemination of the modern technology, though ultimately inexorable, were late and slow by comparison with the equivalent processes in Western Europe (viewed as the model of proper technological progress). … In consequence, the importance and functions of manuscript cultures (in the plural) are both underestimated and underinvestigated." [533-534]
Two important implications surface here; first, as I noted in my short analysis of Marshal McLuhan's Gutenberg Galaxy, when discussing augmented reality conceptions centered on the notion of speed (either in technology acceptance or use) simply cannot be applied without grossly skewing the interaction technology facilitates among the vast interplay of multiple cultures, and second, engaging in analysis based on monocultural notions of print, oral and manuscript use blinds one to the interweaving of these cultures and the strategy or tactics utilized by groups or individuals in the production/certification of knowledge across this diffuse cultural landscape.
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Take, for example, the Petrine introduction of a new print culture at the start of the 18th century, one centered on the administrative. While printing presses were not unknown in the nascent Russian state prior to Peter the Great's ascension to power, the vast bulk of printing activity centered on ecclesiastical titles. Interestingly, these early printed religious works did not distinguish themselves as unique or new through the 'moveable type' medium, as their visual construction closely mimicked the original manuscript version of the texts in question. At this point, equivalence defined the visual and functional relationship between manuscript and print; one cultural mode did not possess increased authority or certification over the other.
This relationship changed when Peter introduced his 'westernizing' reforms, spurring development of a new administrative print culture that, while definite in its separation from ecclesiastical affairs, emerged alongside, not superimposed, on the manuscript cultural practices embraced by the church. While the hierarchy of authority would generally shift to print over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, manuscript culture continued to thrive and be used by the church. Essentially, the Petrine administrative culture not only fostered the emergence of print culture plurality, but also provided a space for the operation of manuscript culture in a manner that did not invalidate its claim to a specific type of knowledge production and certification.
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What does this mean for an augmented framework that seeks to understand the nature of knowledge production and consumption, or prosumption, through the lens of a singular reality? If we accept, as Franklin does, that multiple cultures exist and interoperate, then we must begin to chart the waves of augmentation, or the degree to which a particular culture permeates the milieu of space under investigation, all the while keeping in mind that even the supposed complete absence of a particular culture still leaves residue on the actions taken by participants in social space. Because augmented effects ebb and flow based on a participants physical location and technological utilization, documenting the permeation of a particular culture into social space is a continuously dynamic activity.
In part II of my exploration of Franklin's article, I want to address the idea that the Tsar's saw print as a means to amplify and verify their authority- even as the very mixed nature of print and manuscript culture in the larger Russian social sphere meant that illiterate peasants could effectively negotiate meaning and interpretation when pressed by the power of print culture. I will also explore how concepts of textual dualism came into play with the advent of Peter's administrative print culture by looking at a play both heavily censored in print and widely distributed, uncensored, in manuscript form.