Eric Snodgrass: Executions: Power and Expression in Networked and Computational Media (2017)

15 August 2017, dusan

“This book looks at questions of power and expression as they are composed in various ways within networked and computationally-informed situations of the present. Drawing from the term as it is originally invoked in practices of computing, the research puts forward execution as a central conceptual framework for its investigations. In a computer program, a program becomes executable when it is able to execute a set of procedures within a designated set of relations and affordances. Similarly, the concept of execution developed here looks at the ongoing negotiations of various formative relations and affordances (technical, cultural, material, political) in practices of execution, describing certain notable techniques applied towards the task of making things executable.

The examples looked at include several dominant media and technology practices of the present, as well as several alternative practices that point to other possible modes of execution. In doing so, the research highlights certain politically-orientated issues involved in questions of execution, working to further develop specific approaches aimed at describing, questioning and intervening into practices of execution as they occur in the world.”

Doctoral Dissertation in Media and Communication Studies
Publisher Malmö University, Malmö, 2017
New Media, Public Spheres and Forms of Expression series, 11
Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 International
ISBN 9789171045065
332 pages
via fcr

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Matthew Fuller: How To Be a Geek: Essays on the Culture of Software (2017)

29 June 2017, dusan

“Computer software and its structures, devices and processes are woven into our everyday life. Their significance is not just technical: the algorithms, programming languages, abstractions and metadata that millions of people rely on every day have far-reaching implications for the way we understand the underlying dynamics of contemporary societies.

In this innovative new book, software studies theorist Matthew Fuller examines how the introduction and expansion of computational systems into areas ranging from urban planning and state surveillance to games and voting systems are transforming our understanding of politics, culture and aesthetics in the twenty-first century. Combining historical insight and a deep understanding of the technology powering modern software systems with a powerful critical perspective, this book opens up new ways of understanding the fundamental infrastructures of contemporary life, economies, entertainment and warfare.

In so doing Fuller shows that everyone must learn ‘how to be a geek’, as the seemingly opaque processes and structures of modern computer and software technology have a significance that no-one can afford to ignore. This powerful and engaging book will be of interest to everyone interested in a critical understanding of the political and cultural ramifications of digital media and computing in the modern world.”

Publisher Polity, 2017
ISBN 9781509517152, 1509517154
x+233 pages

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Marie Marchand: The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story (1988)

18 March 2016, dusan

The only English-language monograph on the popular Videotex online service Minitel, which operated in France between 1978-2012.

“Minitel was proposed and adopted in 1978, the same year that Simon Nora and Alain Minc submitted their influential report The Computerization of Society in which they coined the term ‘telematics’. Minitel also came on the heels of a “phone-in-every-home” program (pre-dating the One Laptop Per Child project by many decades) that was proposed in 1975 by then-general manager of France Telecom Gérard Théry to increase subscriber telephone lines; Théry firmly believed the telephone was going to be the cornerstone of any computerized country – “A phone in every home is the cutting edge of a computer in every home.” Just three years later in 1978, 2500 people in the Parisian suburb of Vélizy had volunteered to use the system initially called “Teletel.” Marie Marchand tellingly writes in The Minitel Saga: A French Success Story that while “households used the system six times a month on average, consulting 20-odd services for a total connect time of one-and-a-half hours per month…”, “These overall figures concealed a number of pronounced disparities…Age disparity: people under 30 used their terminals more than those over 30. Gender disparity: women used them but little. Class disparity: top executives connected more often than midle management types, who in turn called more often than blue collar workers. Further, a flagrant disparity emerged in terms of services used. Five service providers alone accounted for over half the calls…” (53)

In 1982, instead of delivering increasingly expensive and difficult to update telephone book directories, France Telecom loaned Minitel terminals to residents all across France. By 1988, 3.5 million Minitel sets had been installed with users logging six million hours per month and taking advantage of 8000 services. And by 1999, roughly 9 million terminals could access to the network in turn used by 25 million people who took advantage of 26,000 services. By this time, not only had Minitel inaugurated an era that continues today of disparities between visible and invisible (or even absent) users based on gender, race, sexuality, and socio-economic status, but it also inaugurated the era of online pornography, the use of networks to coordinate student protests, and experiments with pseudonymous online identity.” (Lori Emerson)

Translated and adapted from the French by Mark Murphy
Publisher Larousse, Paris, 1988
ISBN 2035182409, 9782035182401
197 pages
via Lori Emerson

Resources: Minitel.org, Minitel Research Lab.

WorldCat

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