Language in the Other Software

LEA Volume 17 Issue 2
Senior Editors for this volume: Lanfranco Aceti and Simon Penny

ISBN: 978-1906897-16-1
ISSN: 1071-4391

Reference: Chandler B. McWilliams, “Language in the Other Software,” eds. Lanfranco Aceti and Simon Penny, Leonardo Electronic Almanac (DAC09: After Media: Embodiment and Context) 17, no. 2 (2012): 110-119.

Language in the Other Software
by Chandler B. McWilliams

Friedrich Kittler’s analysis of software in his essay “There is no Software” evacuates the programmer from the realm of the computer by focusing too intently on the machine and its specific, material existence. As a result, he posits the material action of computers, in the form of voltages, as the essential site of the being of computers. This paper attempts to thread the needle between a reading of code-as-text that obfuscates the procedural nature of code, and an overly technical description of programming that reinstates the machine as the essential arbiter of authentic acts of programming. By reasserting the presence of the programmer and exploring the variety of types of coding, this essay offers an alternate description of the being of software, one which emphasizes not just the execution of code on the machine, but also the programmer’s role as reader and writer of code.

Full article is available for download as a pdf here.

Vol 17 Issue 2 of Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) is published on line as a free PDF but will also be rolled out as Amazon Print on Demand and will be available on iTunes, iPad, Kindle and other e-publishing outlets.