software studies

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pages: 223 words: 52,808

Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson (History of Computing) by Douglas R. Dechow


3D printing, Apple II, Bill Duvall, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, game design, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, knowledge worker, linked data, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, pre–internet, RAND corporation, semantic web, Silicon Valley, software studies, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, Vannevar Bush, Wall-E, Whole Earth Catalog

And in recent years work on critical interpretation of computing, taking the technical level seriously, has blossomed. The MIT Press has been one of the leading supporters of this, initiating new book series in both software studies and platform studies. However, this critical reading generally still remains divorced from writing. I know of no educational institution that teaches them together (e.g., no introductory programming course that includes introductory software studies content) and I know of only one published scholarly book that includes the writing of software as one of the critical methods it uses in analyzing software (the unusually-titled 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5 + RND(1)); : GOTO 10 [9]). Of course, while undertakings such as software studies seem new to many, for those of us who read Nelson’s work it is simply the continuation of his tradition. CL/DM contains much that is clearly the critical interpretation of software, connecting the technical level to the cultural one—ranging from discussing the “drill and practice” assumptions built into the TUTOR programming language to exposing the simple workings of Eliza and other systems used to market artificial intelligence ideas [10, DM27, DM14].


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

For such understanding they can call upon a strand of texts in the history of computing and new media, they can take part in the rich implicit culture of software, and they also can take part in the development of an emerging, fundamentally transdisciplinary, computational literacy. These provide the foundation for software studies. Software Studies uses and develops cultural, theoretical, and practice-oriented approaches to make critical, historical, and experimental accounts of (and interventions via) the objects and processes of software. The field engages and contributes to the research of computer scientists, the work of software designers and engineers, and the creations of software artists. It tracks how software is substantially integrated into the processes of contemporary culture and society, reformulating processes, ideas, institutions, and cultural objects around their closeness to algorithmic and formal description and action. Software studies proposes histories of computational cultures and works with the intellectual resources of computing to develop reflexive thinking about its entanglements and possibilities.

Software Studies Matthew Fuller, Lev Manovich, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, editors Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 2009 Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life, Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge, 2011 Programmed Visions: Software and Memory, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, 2011 Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression, Geoff Cox and Alex McLean, 2012 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));: GOTO 10, Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter, 2012 The Imaginary App, Paul D. Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko, 2014 The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, Benjamin H. Bratton, 2015 The Stack On Software and Sovereignty Benjamin H.

Software studies proposes histories of computational cultures and works with the intellectual resources of computing to develop reflexive thinking about its entanglements and possibilities. It does this both in the scholarly modes of the humanities and social sciences and in the software creation/research modes of computer science, the arts, and design. The Software Studies book series, published by the MIT Press, aims to publish the best new work in a critical and experimental field that is at once culturally and technically literate, reflecting the reality of today's software culture. Acknowledgments This book took shape over several years, and only due to the friendship, collegiality, and support of many people. Whether or not I knew it at the time, at different moments, each of them ensured that this project would reach fruition. For the conversation, critiques, and cajoling, I am in their debt.


pages: 398 words: 107,788

Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by E. Gabriella Coleman


Benjamin Mako Hill, crowdsourcing, Debian, dumpster diving,, financial independence, ghettoisation, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jason Scott:, Jean Tirole, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, means of production, Paul Graham, pirate software, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, software patent, software studies, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, web application, web of trust

Free Software Foundation. (1996) 2010. Free Software Definition. (accessed November 28, 2010). Freiberger, Paul, and Michael Swaine. 2000. Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer. New York: McGraw-Hill. Friedman, Ted. 2005. Electric Dreams: Computers in American Culture. New York: New York University Press. Fuller, Matthew, ed. 2008. Software Studies: A Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Fuster Morell, Mayo. 2010. Governance of Online Creation Communities. Provision of Infrastructure for the Building of Digital Commons. PhD diss., European University Institute. Gallaway, Terrel, and Douglas Kinnear. 2004. Open Source Software, the Wrongs of Copyright, and the Rise of Technology. Journal of Economic Issues 38 (2): 467–75. Galison, Peter. 1997.

New York Times Sunday Magazine. (accessed March 24, 2012). Gluckman, Max. 1963. Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa: Collected Essays. New York: Macmillan. Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face-to-face Behavior. New York: Anchor Books. Good, Byron J. 1994. Medicine, Rationality, and Experience: An Anthropological Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goriunova, Olga and Shulgin, Alexei. 2008. Glitch. In Software Studies: A Lexicon, ed. Matthew Fuller, 110–19. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Graeber, David. 1997. Manners, Deference, and Private Property in Early Modern Europe. Comparative Studies in Society and History 39 (4): 694–728. 2001. Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. New York: Palgrave. 2004. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press. 2007.

Geeks and Global Justice: Another (Cyber)World Is Possible. PhD diss., Simon Fraser University. Mill, John Stuart. (1857) 1991. On Liberty. Edited by H.B. Acton. London: Dent. Miller, Daniel, and Don Slater. 2000. The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. London: Berg. Mitnick, Kevin D. 2011. Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Monfort, Nick. 2008. Obfuscated Code. In Software Studies: A Lexicon, ed. Matthew Fuller, 193–99. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Moody, Glyn. 1997 The Greatest OS that (N)ever Was. Wired August. Available at, accessed July 20, 2011. 2001. Rebel Code: The Inside Story of Linux and the Open Source Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. Morozov, Evgeny. 2011. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.


pages: 222 words: 53,317

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman


3D printing, algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, discovery of the americas,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, HyperCard, Inbox Zero, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Parkinson's law, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, software studies, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Therac-25, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

a blog post from Google in 2006: Joshua Bloch, “Extra, Extra—Read All About It: Nearly All Binary Searches and Mergesorts Are Broken,” Google Research Blog, June 2, 2006, Also discussed in Chandra, Geek Sublime, 124. The bug is a window: A glitch is “a possibility to glance at software’s inner structure.” Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin, “Glitch,” in Software Studies: A Lexicon, ed. Matthew Fuller, 110–19 (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), 114. Errors and bugs as a window into improving a system is a concept also explored by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (New York: Random House, 2012). For an application of Taleb’s concept of antifragility to software development, see Martin Monperrus, “Principles of Antifragile Software,”


Raw Data Is an Oxymoron by Lisa Gitelman


collateralized debt obligation, computer age, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, index card, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, knowledge worker, Louis Daguerre, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, RFID, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, social graph, software studies, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, text mining, time value of money, trade route, Turing machine, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush

Her work has appeared in publications ranging from Literature and Medicine and New Literary History to Open Democracy and the Arab Studies Journal. Her most recent research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Contributors Council of Canada explores what Canadian media organizations understand about Internet infrastructure. Lev Manovich ( is a professor in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and director of the Software Studies Initiative at California Institute for Telecommunication and Information (Calit2). Jeremy Douglass is assistant professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). William Huber is a PhD candidate in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD. Vikas Mouli is a private equity investor with TPG Growth, based in San Francisco. Previously, he worked at Barclays Capital in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group, focused on the energy sector.


pages: 313 words: 93,214

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein


affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Golden Gate Park, index card, Menlo Park, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Skype, Snapchat, software studies

., “Negotiating with Gender Stereotypes on Social Networking Sites.” 20selfie was named the “international word of the year”: The first recorded use of the word selfie was in 2002, in an online chat room by a drunken Australian. It became the word of the year after Oxford’s researchers established that its use had spiked 17 percent since the same time in 2012. Ben Brumfield, “Selfie Named Word of the Year in 2013,”, November 20, 2013. 20Anyone with a Facebook or Instagram account: Mehrdad Yazdani, “Gender, Age, and Ambiguity of Selfies on Instagram,” Software Studies Initiative (blog), February 28, 2014. 20“If you write off the endless stream”: Rachel Simmons, “Selfies Are Good for Girls,” Slate DoubleX, December 1, 2013. 21But about half also said: Melissa Dahl, “Selfie-Esteem: Teens Say Selfies Give a Confidence Boost,”, February 26, 2014. 21Body dissatisfaction seems less driven by: Meier and Gray, “Facebook Photo Activity Associated with Body Image Disturbance in Adolescent Girls.” 21the more they look at others’ pictures: Fadouly and Vartanian, “Negative Comparisons About One’s Appearance Mediate the Relationship Between Facebook Usage and Body Image Concerns.”


pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg


A Pattern Language, Berlin Wall,, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook,, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Software is a heap of trouble. And yet we can’t, and won’t, simply power down our computers and walk away. The software that frustrates and hog-ties us also captivates us with new capabilities and enthralls us with promises of faster, better ways to work and live. There’s no going back. We need the stuff more than we hate it. So we dream of new and better things. The expert who in many ways founded the modern field of software studies, Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., wrote an influential essay in 1987 titled “No Silver Bullet,” declaring that, however frustrated we may be with the writing of computer programs, we will never find a magic, transformational breakthrough—we should expect only modest, incremental advances. Brooks’s message is hard to argue with but painful to accept, and you can’t attend a computer industry conference or browse a programmers’ Web site today without bumping into someone who is determined to prove him wrong.