Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Observer Effect

As Jason Hogle writes, observers do not simply stand apart, even if they don't "do" anything. The apparently simple fact of being an observer has an impact on the observed.

Two connections seem relevant to the subject(s) of this blog: (1) I don't think observation selection theory [my pet project] accounts for the impact of being an observer; (2) In terms of texts and textuality, I think there is something to be said about how readers are effective.


theswain said...

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle...observers do have effects on the observed. I haven't ever thought about this in terms of textual criticism, though we certainly talk about how previous editors emend (i. e. an observer in a very real way effecting the text) and why or why it isn't valid etc.....but then the editor is no longer merely observer, but actor in the process.

Jon Myerov said...

I agree. I think it's interesting to see how editors anticipate their readers and edit for them. Even before the readers do anything, the editor accounts for them.