Software Takes Command

What was interesting about this reading was that it was written a while back but still very relatable to the present time. “[S]oftware has become our interface with the world.” With this, Manovich highlights software’s history, importance, and development over time. He addresses these themes within the introductory chapter as a “Why this matters to everyone” frame.

Most of our everyday tasks will revolve around computer interfaces. He begins by mentioning the history of software’s and pinpoints those who have had an impact on our lives. He compels his readers to reconsider the history by including the history of software as well. It is not a means to record history but in fact a part of it. It controls most of the global economy (then) and now control most of the lives of the individuals in that economy. He mentions how we should have more “Software Studies” to broaden our general understanding of this subject.

When he mentions (multi)media interfaces, it was a direct link to what I am currently studying. UX/UI Design involves the user and provides a level of information that is more than just graphics. The history of this field is based off the software culture that he has focused on.

He goes on to explain how there is a rise of people who want to code and understand the software (just like me) and that they need to decrease the gap between the two. I found this part interesting because years later we still have the common “Should designers code?” debate when in reality it should be “Should people code?” If the public adopt software and the language it was written in, then maybe we can develop as a group. He optimistically compares it to photography and how that realm was quickly adopted by the public. I personally disagree. I think that people have been detached for so long that it has become more alienated and difficult to even understand. Again, this brings back his main point of how software has become an “added dimension” to our lives and how we have largely overlooked and continue to overlook.

Since I posted my response after the (short) feedback session, I would like to add my extended thoughts on Manovich’s introductory chapter. I wanted to focus on the aspect that this medium is not static but constantly moving, changing, updating or even breaking. We will live in collection of screenshots lost or found. Even during Doug’s presentation, he had to dig up old screenshots just to carry out a conversation regarding Many Eyes. Even the screenshots themselves cannot represent the true experience of this program. For example, when Doug showed the landing page and another, I thought about the transition between the two pages. Did it fade in, swipe (I doubt), simply appear, parts appeared based on hierarchy of information? It made me think of the documentation process of software. How can we properly document it, the experience so that we can begin to frame it as an object of study. Photography is easily documented with the size, color, photographer name, lens, film, etc. But how can we begin to think of the borders in order to document these experiences? I think that is the reason for why software has been neglected. We couldn’t really figure out how to take screenshots that truly represent the software itself.