Pre-digital (or predigital). Adjective. Neologism 2011. Definition in progress. Describes a textual object before its digitization. Implies a series of questions on the nature of the object to be digitized and on the planned readings of the object in its digitized format, such as :

  • What is the present environment of the object?
  • What are the past environments for this object?
  • Who are the creators (author(s), scribe(s), editor(s), printer(s), publisher(s), bookseller(s), commentator(s) …) of the object as it reaches the hands of the digitizer?
  • What is the intended digital environment for this object? Is the change of medium part of a larger project (digitization of a collection, of different states of the same title, of the printer’s works, of an author’s works, of someone’s library, of a reference library, of a genre) or centered on the one pre-digital book (as a unique artefact with its unique destiny)?
  • Which information is it important not to loose during the process?
  • How will the notice attached to the object  convey information on its history, its materiality, its meanings?
  • Which parts of the object do have priority for the final form: text, image, ownerships, provenance, craftmanship, annotations, all of these, none of these?

Pre-digital discourse is linked with bibliography and bibliology —understood as means to write and read meaningful accompaniments to the digital object — but also with options and intentions for the digital project itself. Its contents vary with the locutor, with the situation of communication, and with the readers. Its generic definition varies as well, from caption, catalogue entry, bibliographical reference, to analytical description or research paper.

Ideally, the pre-digital discourse opens a dialogue with post-digital continuations: comments, questions, complements, corrections etc.


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