Jan 2023

Labont seminar – Morgan Morcel, “Copy-Paste: What does this hyphen link?”

Sala Incontri 1 - Biblioteca di Filosofia, Palazzo Nuovo, h 16-18

January 16, 2023

Morgan Morcel (Université Côte d’Azur): “Copy-Paste: What does this hyphen link?”


WORD WORD WORD WORD WORD… The first two words are typed on this page, the next two are a copy-and-paste of the first two, and the last two are copied-and-pasted from another word-processing page. The first two stages reproduce the beginning of “The Mother of All Demos”, from 1968, where the computer is presented for the first time as a desk — and the techniques invented reproduce the potentialities of the secretariat as much as of printing. However, whereas printing a book means reproducing the same space for the same text, copying-and-pasting involves the production of the same text, whether it is in two different places in the same space (second stage), or in two different spaces (third stage).

Unlike the amanuensis’ manuscript project, the copy-and-paste technique excludes errors and deals with the same thing (seemingly indiscernible).  nlike cut-and-paste, copy-and-paste preserves the first copy; unlike hypertext, copy-and-paste breaks the link to the original place. One wonders, then, if the shifting in a “second” place, by the action of who manipulates the keyboard and mouse, does not function as a principle of singularization that gives the right of attribution. If repeating is always variating, one can reinvest the individuality of the formation of ideas, even in copying and pasting.

The issue of academic plagiarism is enhancing, new categories are created and condemnations are effectuated, through the Web which is both a space of publication/sharing and of control, one wonders how to operate the reproduction-appropriation of a common fund and the reproduction as theft. All the more so as this reproduction ultimately returns to it. One then encounters two paradoxes: the paradox of the anti-plagiarism software (which, at the same time as providing proof of the problem, makes that problem vanish — as long as it is performant) and the paradox of the anti-theft guarantee (where the solution proposed to prevent the theft consists in publicly taking that very risk).

Attend the talk online clicking this LINK