Introduction, the Stuff of Software

Fuller, Matthew. 2008. Introduction, the Stuff of Software. In: Matthew Fuller, ed. Software Studies: A Lexicon. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, pp. 1-13. ISBN 978-0-262-06274-9 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This project is entitled software studies for two reasons. First, it takes the
form of a series of short studies: speculative, expository, and critical texts on
particular digital objects, languages, and logical structures. Additional terms
touch on some of the qualities software is supposed to possess and ideas by
which to approach it. Together, at certain scales of interpretation, these constitute
the “stuff” of software. Software structures and makes possible much of
the contemporary world. This collection proposes an exercise in the rapid prototyping
of transversal and critical approaches to such stuff.
What is covered here includes: algorithms; logical functions so fundamental
that they may be imperceptible to most users; ways of thinking and doing that
leak out of the domain of logic and into everyday life; the judgments of value
and aesthetics that are built into computing; programming’s own subcultures
and its implicit or explicit politics; or the tightly formulated building blocks
working to make, name, multiply, control, and interrelate reality. Does Software
Studies offer a pair of super X- ray specs for the standardized user, allowing
them to see behind the screen, through the many layers of software, logic,
visualization, and ordering, right down to the electrons bugging out in the
microcircuitry and on, into the political, cultural and conceptual formations
of their software, and out again, down the wires into the world, where software
migrates into and modifi es everything it touches? Does it offer even a diagram
of such a vision? Not quite. That would take a second volume. What we can
achieve though, is to show the stuff of software in some of the many ways that
it exists, in which it is experienced and thought through, and to show, by the
interplay of concrete examples and multiple kinds of accounts, the conditions
of possibility that software establishes.

Item Type:

Book Section

Additional Information:

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)



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Date Deposited:

17 Sep 2010 14:18

Last Modified:

19 Jun 2017 11:05


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