Editor's Introduction

As Alice Gambrell notes in her erudite "Author's Statement," Stolen Time is at once an archive and an argument, as it offers a powerful argument about the archive and exposes archival logics as always inherently ideological. Importantly, the piece enacts its argument, requiring its user to explore this virtual archive in order to access the argument constructed there via the user's own navigations. The argument is emergent, unfolding as the user becomes more and more immersed in the piece itself. It stands as a provocative and playful example of experiential argument, pushing scholarly practices such as research, annotation, and citation in lively new directions.
This archive also encapsulates and preserves a history of labor practices, limning both the oppressive and the expressive potentials encapsulated in a variety of office work and office machines. As such, it offers evidence to the creativity of all manner of text workers. Such histories are vitally important in a moment such as our own when the forces of globalization seem to encourage our seamless incorporation into capital and the networks through which it flows. Stolen Time reminds us of resistance.

While the piece bears a clear relationship to Writing Is Work, the book that Gambrell is now completing, Stolen Time is not simply a translation of that print project to the digital realm. It stands easily alone, obeying its own internal principles while radically reworking our understanding of form's relationship to content. The project's 'design' or 'form' is not separable from the 'content' or 'argument' it makes. Such an argument may seem self-evident in the tantalizing realms of the digital, but Stolen Time also historicizes this relationship, underscoring that that form and content, or, put differently, the technical and the creative, have always existed in tight feedback loops. The construction of the project literalized these circuits of exchange as Gambrell and Kelly collaborated in an intense production process. While we've long been urged not to judge a book by its cover, Stolen Time powerfully insists that such an adage works to conceal the myriad traces of labor that congeal in any textual artifact. As such, the project offers another take on a claim that Vectors as a whole seeks to make: the long-standing scholarly distinction between tools and theories is profoundly destabilized by digital media, demanding a rethinking of long-held tenets of technological determinism.

-- Tara McPherson and Steve Anderson