Abstract

Alphabetical writing is traditionally interpreted as a medium that fixes oral language. Consequently, writing is seen as a purely discursive system: writing is a language and not an image. This essay attempts to modify this phonographic view, namely by rehabilitating a fundamental visual-iconic dimension of writing, which is referred to here as 'notational iconicity' (Schriftbildlichkeit). Writing ­ and its respective text ­ is a hybrid construct in which the linguistic and the iconic, telling and showing intersect. Only through the power of this visual potential can the cultural-technical function of writing be explained, for example in written calculation, in calculus in mathematics and logic, or in programming. The computer is also a writing machine. Digital writing marks the emergence of a new means of operating with writing, which at the same time reveals the boundaries of notational iconicity.

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