Digital Culture

Derrida is dead

From the Guardian:

While I never quite agreed with his philosophy, and have trouble with his contribution to literary studies, it remains true that he was one of the towering figures of 20th century academia. Without him, we would have no literary criticism as we know it now, and Continental Philosophy would have been much less robust.

Derrida was known as the father of deconstructionism, a branch of critical thought or analysis developed in the late 1960s and applied to literature, linguistics, philosophy, law and architecture.

Derrida focused his work on language, showing that it has multiple layers and thus multiple meanings or interpretations, challenging the notion that speech is a direct form of communication or even that the author of a text is the author of its meaning.

Deconstructionists like Derrida explored the means of liberating the written word from the structures of language, opening limitless textual interpretations. Not limited to language, Derrida’s philosophy of deconstructionism was then applied to western values.

The deconstructionist approach has remained controversial, with detractors even proclaiming the movement dead. So divisive were Derrida’s ideas that Cambridge University’s plan to award him an honorary degree in 1992 was forced to a vote which he won.

As Derrida grew ill, death haunted him. In a Le Monde interview in August, Derrida said that learning to live means learning to die.

“Less and less, I have not learned to accept death,” he was quoted as saying. “I remain uneducable about the wisdom of learning to die.”

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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