Software Studies: Quo Vadis?

New media may look like media, but this is only the surface…To understand the logic of new media we need to turn to computer science. It is there that we may expect to find the new terms, categories and operations that characterize media that became programmable. From media studies, we move to something which can be called software studies; from media theory — to software theory.

Reading this statement today, I feel some adjustments are in order. It positions computer science as a kind of absolute truth, a given which can explain to us how culture works in software society. But computer science is itself part of culture. Therefore, I think that Software Studies has to investigate both the role of software in forming contemporary culture, and cultural, social, and economic forces that are shaping development of software itself. (p10)

The main difficulty is the simple premise of the book, that new media may be defined via reference to a foundational set of formal qualities, and that these qualities form a coherent language that may be identified across all sorts of new media objects, and above all that the qualities may be read, and may be interpreted. This is what was called, many years ago, structuralism. p23

…it is not so much that these sorts of books are misguided[…]but that their conclusions are unappetizing. This is the crux of the matter: they contain no injunction. They talk more about objects and operations than practices and effects. p23–4

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Dong Liang

Dong Liang

Reading, Writing, Parenting

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