Software Takes Command

In this opening Introduction , Manovich attempts to uncover a kind of phenomenon that is simultaneously everywhere and hidden. I can understand his larger point, that while vast numbers of humans interact with software, we haven’t given software itself the kind of historical & sociological study that other disciplines have. Or at the least, I agree it has been buried to the realms of computer scientists and mathematicians. So if nothing else, Manovich is bringing software to light at critical time – and applying several different lenses to it.

I suppose I agree with premise that all disciplines now need to account for the role of software, because there are few disciplines left. It struck me that even a field like theology would benefit from digitized text analysis and pattern matching. Also I agree that the “ease” of programming has increased and in a sense ‘democratized’ code. I feel this is because Moore’s law has allowed new programmers to think in increasingly higher levels of abstraction. Manovich calls this “efficiency”, instead of “easier”. This kind of programming is only efficient from the human perspective, but maybe not so from a computing resources perspective.

The question “What is media after software?” I found interesting. On one hand, one answer is fairly obvious to me: Moore’s law has increased the speed at which our world is increasingly digitized; therefore, we now interact less with physical objects (books, CDs, etc.) then we do with objects that simply transform digital content back to our analog senses, through screens, headphones, etc. On the other hand, Manovich is interested more in software itself. Does there exist any commonality or patterns that inform all the content creation tools the world uses? Perhaps a simple answer would be “ordered logic”, but I suspect there’s more.

Also, I felt there were some parallels to the Drucker readings; Drucker mentions books as re-creations of “performance” and Manovich makes a very similar comparison.

Overall this chapter is interesting but lacks a well defined central premise – it seems to go into many different directions. One thing is certain – I agree we do live in a world of constant “beta”, mash-up, and blurred lines of content creation & consumption.