software studies

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Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression by Geoff Cox, Alex McLean

4chan, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, bash_history, bitcoin, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter,, Everything should be made as simple as possible, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Jacques de Vaucanson, Larry Wall, late capitalism, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Slavoj Žižek, social software, social web, software studies, speech recognition, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, Turing machine, Turing test, Vilfredo Pareto, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks

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.

Speaking Code 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, text: Geoff Cox; code: Alex McLean, 2012 Speaking Code Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression text: Geoff Cox code: Alex McLean foreword by Franco “Bifo” Berardi The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England © 2013 Geoff Cox All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Cox, Geoff. Speaking code : coding as aesthetic and political expression / text [by] Geoff Cox, code [by] Alex McLean, foreword by Franco “Bifo” Berardi. p. cm.—(Software studies) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-01836-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Source code (Computer science)—Philosophy. 2. Programming languages (Electronic computers)—Syntax. 3. Computer prose. I. McLean, Alex (Christopher Alex), 1975– II. Title. QA76.167.C69 2013 005.1—dc23 2012012944 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Contents Series Foreword vii Foreword: Debt, Exactness, Excess, by Franco “Bifo” Berardi Preface xiii ix 0 Double Coding 1 Coding subject 3 Coding expression 7 Introduction 11 1 Vocable Code (co-written with Alex McLean) Coding language 19 Grammars—Notation—Indeterminism Coding speech 27 Machines—Intelligence—Embodiment Code act 34 Speech act—Vocable Synthesis—Excess 2 Code Working Code in-itself 41 39 Emergence—Computation—Voice Coding work 47 Valorization—Property—Self-organization Code action 58 Virtuosity—Performativity—Recomposition 3 Coding Publics Public domain 72 69 Purification—Ownership—Freedoms Public networking 79 Inequities—Control—Exits 17 vi Public for-itself Contents 91 Recombination—Reciprocity—Autonomy 4 Code for-Itself Execution 100 Negation 102 Coda 104 Notes 111 References 135 Index 145 99 Series Foreword Software is deeply woven into contemporary life—economically, culturally, creatively, politically—in manners both obvious and nearly invisible.

pages: 285 words: 86,853

What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing by Ed Finn

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, game design, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, High speed trading, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, late fees, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Lyft, Mother of all demos, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, software studies, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, wage slave

Kline, The Cybernetics Moment, 68. 42. Historian Thomas Rid describes a fascinating parallel lesson at the Macy conference, where British cybernetics pioneer Ross Ashby demonstrated his homeostat, a “thinking machine” that posed deep questions about the division between organism and environment. Rid, Rise of the Machines, 53-63. 43. Ibid., 68–69. 44. Chun, Software Studies, 2. 45. Ibid. 46. Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason, 255. 47. Chun, Software Studies, 53. 48. Berlinski, The Advent of the Algorithm, 305. 49. Plato, Symposium. 50. Sparrow, Liu, and Wegner, “Google Effects on Memory.” 51. Clark and Chalmers, “The Extended Mind.” 52. Ibid., 8. 53. Clark, Natural-Born Cyborgs, 11. 54. Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason, 12. 55. Ibid. 56. Ibid., 16. 57. Ibid., 250. 58. Stephenson, Snow Crash, 126. 59.

We need an experimental humanities, a set of strategies for direct engagement with algorithmic production and scholarship, drawing on theories of improvisation and experimental investigation to argue that a culture of process, of algorithmic production, requires a processual criticism that is both reflexive and playful. This is how we can begin to understand the figure of the algorithm as a redrawing of the space for cultural imagination and become true collaborators with culture machines rather than their worshippers or, worse, their pets. Notes 1. For a rich history on the figure of the shaman, see Eliade, Shamanism. 2. Levy, Hackers. 3. Chun, Software Studies, 175. 4. Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture. 5. Kay et al., The World Color Survey; Berlin and Kay, Basic Color Terms; Loreto, Mukherjee, and Tria, “On the Origin of the Hierarchy of Color Names.” 6. Stephenson, Snow Crash, 218. 7. Tully, ISPW ’88. 8. Bogost, “The Cathedral of Computation.” 9. Berlinski, The Advent of the Algorithm, xi, xv. 10. Ibid., 305. 11. Ibid., 203. 12.

A reading of a particular post on Facebook, or even, say, Note Book, a collection of literary scholar Jeff Nunokawa’s essayistic Facebook posts, would capture only the human side of the collaboration unless it engaged directly with the apparatus of Facebook itself. In this way algorithmic reading draws from the multiple critical forerunners we have already considered here—cybernetics, cultural studies, platform and software studies, media theory, and digital materiality. We are just beginning to work out how to pull these different perspectives together to ask questions about the ethics of algorithms, the legibility of software and the politics of computation. Algorithmic platforms now shape effectively all cultural production, from authors engaging in obligatory Twitter badinage to promote their new books to the sophisticated systems recommending new products to us.

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, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, game design, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, knowledge worker, linked data, Marc Andreessen, 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].

Data and the City by Rob Kitchin,Tracey P. Lauriault,Gavin McArdle

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, bike sharing scheme, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, create, read, update, delete, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dematerialisation, digital map, distributed ledger, fault tolerance, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, floating exchange rates, global value chain, Google Earth, hive mind, Internet of things, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, lifelogging, linked data, loose coupling, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, open economy, openstreetmap, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, place-making, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, semantic web, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart contracts, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, statistical model, TaskRabbit, text mining, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, the medium is the message, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, urban planning, urban sprawl, web application

Department of Homeland Security (2009) ‘A Roadmap for Cybersecurity Research’. Available from: [accessed 10 February 2017]. Dodge, M. and Kitchin, K. (2007) ‘Rethinking maps’, Progress in Human Geography 31: 1–14. Dodge, M., Kitchin, K. and Zook, M. (2009) ‘How does software make space? Exploring some geographical dimensions of pervasive computing and software studies’, Environment and Planning A 41: 1283–1293. Donaldson, D.R. and Fear, K. (2011) ‘Provenance, end-user trust and reuse: an empirical investigation’, Proceedings of the Third USENIX Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Provenance. Foucault, M. (1980) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977, ed. C. Gordon. New York: Pantheon Books. Gitelman, L. (ed.) (2013) ‘Raw Data’ is an Oxymoron.

Castells, M. (1991) The Informational City: Economic Restructuring and Urban Development. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Connor, S. (2004) ‘Topologies: Michel Serres and the shapes of thought’, Anglistik 15(1): 105–117. Fuller, M. (2008) ‘Introduction: The stuff of software’, in M. Fuller (ed.), Software Studies: A Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Gordon, E. and de Souza e Silva, A. (2011) Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World. Chichester and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Graduiertenkolleg Topologie der Technik (2015) Topological Manifesto [accessed 30 June 2015]. Graham, M. (2011) ‘Time machines and virtual portals: The spatialities of the digital divide’, Progress in Development Studies 11(3): 211–227. 168 T.

.; organizational structure diagrams, with roles, responsibilities and skill sets of OSI staff as a result of the implementation of Prime2 National Spatial Platform; catalogue/list of datasets/types collected and technologies related to the national surveying infrastructure which inform/populate PRIME2 National Spatial Platform; OSI ethical, normative and legal framework documents of the data; procedure and training manuals, reports, etc. Finally, this was supplemented by the following tertiary data: •• •• •• reports, press releases, newsletters, web screen captures, presentations; news reports, clippings, videos, etc.; academic literature, theoretical, critical, pragmatic and methodological related to Object OP, OOD, software and database vendors, other implementations, standard, software studies, etc. Most data collection work took place on site at the OSI between March and April 2015. The OSi arranged private office space and full access to its staff. Being embedded in the organization and participating in meetings allowed me to get a sense of the place and to get to know the people working there. Theoretical approach The approach taken to examining how a city is translated into code and data, and how these then reshape the city was a discourse analysis of the Prime2 data model and platform, with Dublin as the city.

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, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), 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, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, 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, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, 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

activist lawyer, Benjamin Mako Hill, commoditize, crowdsourcing, Debian, Donald Knuth, dumpster diving,, financial independence, ghettoisation, GnuPG, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jason Scott:, Jean Tirole, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Larry Wall, Louis Pasteur, means of production, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, 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 Hackers Conference, 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: 302 words: 84,881

The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy by Paolo Gerbaudo

Airbnb, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, centre right, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, gig economy, industrial robot, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joseph Schumpeter, Mark Zuckerberg, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, post-industrial society, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, Ruby on Rails, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, software studies, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas L Friedman, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, WikiLeaks

To explore the meaning and consequences of digital platforms, it is necessary to begin from the actual architecture of these platforms, from the various functionalities that are embedded in their design. This is not merely to identify the features which they display, but also to understand the principles and overall ‘philosophy’ which underscores them. In fact, as developers and scholars in the emerging area of ‘software studies’ know very well, software is never a neutral machinery.221 It always involves some considerations about the nature of the world, the subjects involved in it and a definition of aims and objectives that is by its nature profoundly political. Lines of code define the type of actions that can be performed, and the types of behaviour that are possible. They assign privileges and permissions to different categories of users, thus establishing hierarchies among participants.

Alessandro Di Battista and Roberto Fico, ‘Lettera ai Meetup’, blog delle Stelle, 19 July 2015, retrieved from 220. Ostrogorski, Democracy and the organization of political parties; and Sigmund Neumann and Frederick C. Barghoorn, Modern political parties: approaches to comparative politics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1956). 221. See, for example, Matthew Fuller, Roger F. Malina and Sean Cubitt, eds, Software studies: a lexicon (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008). 222. To delve into the vast scholarship on algorithms and politics, it is advisable to begin with Taina Bucher, ‘Want to be on the top? Algorithmic power and the threat of invisibility on Facebook’, New Media & Society 14, no.7 (2012): 1164–1180; and Tarleton Gillespie, ‘The relevance of algorithms’, Media technologies: essays on communication, materiality, and society 167 (2014). 223.

pages: 222 words: 53,317

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, digital map, 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: 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,”

Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System by Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost

game design, Google Earth, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, software studies, Steve Wozniak

Because these approaches deal with the same level, it is at least meaningful to imagine a narratology/ludology debate—an early conflict in game studies over whether games are better understood as essentially rule-based or narrative—while it makes much less sense to think about a psychoanalysis/ludology debate or a remediation/narratology debate. Code is a level where explorations are still only beginning. Code studies, software studies, and code aesthetics are not yet widespread, but they are becoming known concepts. With both the Ars Electronica festival and, more recently, the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) having events with code as the theme, there are more contexts for discussing the way creative work is actually programmed and the way it is understood by programmers. The discipline of software engineering is a related field that concerns itself with the code level as well as with organizational and individual capabilities for software development.

Raw Data Is an Oxymoron by Lisa Gitelman

23andMe, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, disruptive innovation, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Filter Bubble, Firefox, fixed income, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, index card, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, knowledge worker, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, longitudinal study, Louis Daguerre, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, peer-to-peer, 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, WikiLeaks

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, longitudinal study, 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: 374 words: 97,288

The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy by Aaron Perzanowski, Jason Schultz

3D printing, Airbnb, anti-communist, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, carbon footprint, cloud computing, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden,, endowment effect, Firefox, George Akerlof, Hush-A-Phone, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, peer-to-peer, price discrimination, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, software as a service, software patent, software studies, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, subscription business, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, transaction costs, winner-take-all economy

If they use a twelve-second clip of the song in a Buick Enclave commercial, they’ve infringed your copyright regardless of whether a contract was formed or not. Nonetheless, most courts, commentators, and copyright holders continue to think of licenses as creatures of contract law. The free software movement is one notable exception. Developers of free software are committed to the idea that all users should be free to run software, study it, modify it, and redistribute it. Those core beliefs are reflected in free software licenses like the GNU General Public License, or GPL. Examples of free software products include the Firefox web browser, the Apache web server, and MySQL relational database software. As Eben Moglen, head of the Software Freedom Law Center and one of the drafters of the current version of the GPL explains, “Licenses are not contracts: the work’s user is obliged to remain within the bounds of the license not because she voluntarily promised, but because she doesn’t have any right to act at all except as the license permits.”40 An approach that roots licenses in property law is preferable to one that treats them like contracts.

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, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall,, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook,, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, 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.