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Gathering Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020

This special gathering collects reflections of the Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020 (CCSWG ‘20), a biannual meeting to explore the intersections of humanistic inquiry and computer code studies. Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), and Zach Mann (USC), the 2020 Working Group was held online from January 20 to February 3. It brought together more than 150 participants from around the world to share ideas, populating dozens of discussion threads with hundreds of comments, critiques, and critical readings. The need to attend to code could not be more urgent. Code exerts a regulatory effect over society and […]
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Introduction to Critical Code Studies Working Group

[…]was originally published on the CCS website in January 2020 as “Week 1: Introduction to Critical Code Studies”.   Welcome to the first week of the 2020 Critical Code Studies Working Group. During this week, we’ll be introducing critical code studies in general by means of the introductory chapter to the forthcoming book Critical Code Studies (The MIT Press). We’ll also take this week as an opportunity to introduce newcomers to the field but also to take stock in where the field has come and to look forward to where it is headed next. Critical Code Studies (CCS) names the […]
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Critical Code Studies

[…]the way we might explicate a work of literature in a new field of inquiry that I call Critical Code Studies (CCS). Codework critics and artists have operated on the cusp of this analysis. Cayley’s emphasis, for example, is “the role of code in literal art” but not the role of code in all software objects, even those not intended to be literary. The focus of CCS is not literature made of code or code that is literature, although these may benefit from its techniques. Rather, I propose that code itself is a cultural text worthy of analysis and rich […]

Critical Code Studies Conference – Week One Discussion

[…]Stephen. Critical Code Studies 26 Oct 2009. Web. 8 Sept 2010. http://criticalcodestudies.com/wordpress/2009/10/26/tim-toady-bicarbonate/ Reiche, Claudia, and Verena Kuni. Cyberfeminism: Next Protocols. Autonomedia, 2004. Print. Russo, Julie Levin. thearchive2. LiveJournal. 10 Apr 2008. Web. 8 Sept 2010. http://community.livejournal.com/thearchive2/1465.html Young, Susan Elizabeth, and Dave Aitel. The Hacker’s Handbook: the strategy behind breaking into and defending Networks. CRC Press, 2004. […]
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Critical Code Studies and the electronic book review: An Introduction

Critical Code Studies starts here.” That was the tagline of the Critical Code Studies Working Group (CCSWG), a gathering of over 100 scholars from countries across the globe for an applied experiment in field formation. The Working Group met over the course of six weeks, beginning February 2010, to engage the work of Critical Code Studies. As we defined it in the early days of the CCS blog, Critical Code Studies is the application of hermeneutics to the interpretation of the extra-functional significance of computer source code. It is a study that follows the developments of Software Studies and Platform […]
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Critical Code Studies Conference – Week Two Discussion

In the second installment of a six-week discussion, contributors search for examples of Critical Code Studies “in the wild.” Instead of asking how code can be read critically, they examine how code is already being created and disputed by lawyers, programmers, and the general public. Editor’s Note: In the second installment of the discussion that took place in the summer of 2010, Jeremy Douglass leads the Critical Code Studies Working Group in exploring the practical challenges and constraints of reading code critically, with an emphasis on real-world examples. An introduction and overview for this week by Mark Marino and Max […]
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Critical Code Studies Conference – Week Two Introduction

Can Critical Code Studies overcome the divide between technology workers and technocultural theorists? Code matters. It matters to the many people who program it, and to those who allow themselves to be programmed by it. It makes a difference how the code is written. It makes a difference on which platform it is executed. It makes a difference who is reading it and what they know about programming. It makes a difference how the programmer imagined the ones who would read her code. Code matters. Its materiality is immaterial when discussing the ways in which segments of code circulate through […]
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Critical Code Studies Conference – Week Three Discussion

In Week 3 of a six-part series, Critical Code Studies contributors spelunk the mysteries of Colossal Cave Adventure, a seminal text adventure game. Delving into close readings of the original FORTRAN code, the group plots the twisty passages linking media theory, deconstruction and philosophies of programming. Group Code Annotation: Colossal Cave Adventure According to Donald Knuth, designer of the “literate programming paradigm,” Colossal Cave Adventure is the “ur-game for computers” (Knuth 1998/2002). Because computer games have, for decades, been a point of connection between the worlds of technology (from the Greek techne, “skill”) and art (from the Latin ars artis, […]
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Critical Code Studies Conference – Week Three Introduction

[…]of Crowther’s source code serve as the point of departure for the third week of the Critical Code Studies Working Group. In this week, Jerz led a new team on a second expedition to map the original source code of Colossal Cave Adventure. The project differed slightly from the previous two weeks in that the group attempted to collaboratively annotate Crowther’s original source code in conjunction with the usual discussion. Their contributions, following the ethos of Critical Code Studies, highlighted extra-functional content and offered historical, political, aesthetic, technical, and anecdotal observations. About thirty-five years ago, when Colossal Cave Adventure was […]
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Critical Code Studies Conference – Week Four Discussion

In Week 4, Critical Code Studies contributors kept the magic alive as they discussed Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s “On Sourcery and Source Codes,” the first chapter of her forthcoming Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. Informed by Chun’s psychoanalytic reading and her awareness of the materiality of code work, the conversation deals with fetishism, gender, genetics, and performativity in ways both abstract and tangible. Week 4 of the CCS discussion began with a reading from the first chapter of Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s recent book, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. We are grateful to MIT Press for allowing us to share […]
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