Nov 26, 2009

The Emerging Field of Software Studies: Anne Helmond's Presentation: "Blogging and the blogosphere through the eyes of software and search engines"; UCSD's Software Studies Initiative

The slideshare presentation is by Anne Helmond, a New Media PhD candidate with the Digital Methods Initiative at the Mediastudies department at the University of Amsterdam where she studied New Media from 2004-2008. She is focusing her work "on the emerging field of Software Studies, which addresses the role that software plays in our society."

The presentation caught my eye because I've been using my blogs as on-line file cabinets, and discovered that my my careful tagging, designed to help me search my own posts, has been something highly favored by search engines. Anne has given this topic some deep thoughts, as you can see from the presentation.
Blogging and the blogosphere through the eyes of software and search engines
The Software Studies Initiative at UCSD  The description below was taken from the UCSD Software Studies Initiative website:

"Google searches and Amazon recommendations, airline flight paths and traffic lights, email and your phone: our culture runs on software. How does software shape the world?

"Software Studies is a new research field for intellectual inquiry that is now just beginning to emerge. The very first book that has this term in its title was published by The MIT Press in June 2008 (Matthew Fuller, ed., Software Studies: A Lexicon). In August 2008 The MIT Press approved Software Studies book series, with Matthew Fuller, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Lev Manovich as editors."

"The Software Studies Initiative intends to play the key role in establishing this new field. The competed projects will become the models of how to effectively study “software society.” Through workshops, publications, and lectures conducted at UCSD and disseminated via the web and in hard copy publications, we will disseminate the broad vision of software studies. That is, we think of software as a layer that permeates all areas of contemporary societies. Therefore, if we want to understand contemporary techniques of control, communication, representation, simulation, analysis, decision-making, memory, vision, writing, and interaction, our analysis can't be complete until we consider this software layer. By being the very first center of its kind, The UCSD Software Studies Initiative has the unique opportunity to shape how this software layer will be understood and studied by other universities, programs, and centers in years to come."

"Social scientists, philosophers, cultural critics, and media and new media theorists now seem to cover all aspects of the IT revolution, creating a number of new disciplines such as cyber culture, Internet studies, new media theory, and digital culture. Yet the underlying engine that drives most of these subjects – software – has received little or no direct attention. Software is still invisible to most academics, artists, and cultural professionals interested in IT and its cultural and social effects. But if we continue to limit critical discussions to the notions of “cyber,” “digital,” “new media,” or “Internet,” we are in danger of always dealing only with effects rather than causes; the output that appears on a computer screen rather than the programs and social cultures that produce these outputs. This is why we are convinced that “software studies” is necessary and we welcome you to join us in our projects and activities....“software studies” translates into two complementary research paradigms. On the one hand, we want to study software and cyberinfrastructure using approaches from humanities, cultural criticism, and social sciences. On the other hand, we want to bring software-based research methods and cutting-edge cyberinfrastructrure tools and resources or the study of the new domain where they have not being applied so far – large sets of cultural data."

Pictures from the Software Studies Initiative website & culturevis' Flickr photostream:

Cultural Analytics Research Environment + HiPerWall
Cultural Analytics research environment + HiPerWall by culturevis.

Interactive exploration of an image collection on a HIPerSpace tiled display
HIPerSpace_video_1 by culturevis.

Legend of Zelda Map Visualization
Legend of Zelda map visualization by culturevis.

Data Exploration on the HiPerWall
Data exploration on the HiPerWall by culturevis.

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