Blog Post

Hello, world! A few introductory words to get started at HASTAC

Hey folks,

I'm so excited to join this community of scholars whose interests are wide-ranging and especially intriguing! Judging by the other introductory posts and material on the HASTAC site, I'm certain that we're in for an exciting year.

Since my profile is mostly filled-out, I figure I'll dive right into my current research that brought me to HASTAC: Allow me to introduce you to Critical Code Studies!

Critical Code Studies, or CCS, is an interdisciplinary approach that strives to provide an enhanced understanding of computer software. The driving question behind CCS is this: What can we learn about software by reading its underlying code as text? CCS asks practitioners to do more than simply analyze each variable, word, algorithm, etc., as an instruction for the computer; reading code critically involves consideration for the cultural aspects of software.

Here are a few questions that have driven my research: Who wrote the code we're looking at? Why? Is it open source? Why or why not? Has this code influenced our culture? How? Answers to these sorts of questions can provide insight into human interaction with software (and vice-versa).

Other core questions verge on the more technical aspects of programming: What language was the software written in, and why? Why did the programmer(s) choose to use certain commands, variable names, comments, etc., as opposed to others? Simply put, how does the language contained in the code become culturally significant?

These and other questions have kept me glued to Critical Code Studies. If you're interested in reading some introductory literature on CCS, I encourage you to check out this article in the Electronic Book Review, written in 2006 by the field's founder, Mark C. Marino (Writing department, USC). It's to him that I owe great thanks for the opportunity to work on CCS, and for the HASTAC nomination.

Looking forward to getting started here at HASTAC!



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