[NetBehaviour] Code as Software as Literature

Bishop Zareh xchicago at gmail.com
Tue Feb 4 04:19:47 CET 2014

See [2] below, I copied the exact quote. 

You said you hate them, and for good reasons. Lists have problems with sustaining heterogeneity. 

••• Sent Mobile •••

On Feb 3, 2014, at 9:01 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

> I reject lists? I don't; I've run some for decades - I'm not sure what you mean.
> - Alan
> On Mon, 3 Feb 2014, Bishop Zareh wrote:
>> Hey yall,
>> I am not online as often as you, so apologies in advance for not being more
>> timely.
>> Cucumber (http://cukes.info) is definitely my favorite code to read. Jasmine
>> (https://github.com/pivotal/jasmine) can sometimes be a 'close second',
>> despite the overbearing assertions and 'be' verbs. It all depends on the
>> author. 
>> Behavour-driven-development may be just another blip on the
>> natural-language-code timeline, but then again, it may not.
>> I echo the many thanks going around for references, dialogue and
>> perceptiveness by all involved. There are two threads that I would like to
>> tease out a bit, as I felt they got sidelined along the way.
>> [1] Late modernist literature as it relates to code wurk. Rob's defense of
>> an instinctual off-hand comment. Some wit from me.
>> [2] Jimmy Wales daughter. Alan's rejection of Lists in general.
>> Wiki-literature and collaborative writing.
>> Let me know your ideas!
>> Bz
>> ========================================================
>>      > <I loathe "Infinite Jest" > do you? it always rather a shock
>>      when
>>      > *someone* one respects & admires hates *something* one loves.
>> I do. I know I'm in a miniscule minority here. I have read the whole
>> book, read reviews and discussions of it, and read about its genesis
>> and
>> production but this is a largely visceral reaction that I'm not
>> particularly proud of. It wasn't germane to the discussion so I really
>> shouldn't have mentioned it. I'm sorry.
>> [1] Late modernist literature as it relates to code wurk. Rob's defense and
>> dismissal of an instinctual and off-hand comment. Some wit from me.
>> Of course we all must respect the brilliance set down in word by giants of
>> contemporary literature like David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon. Many
>> followed in their tradition, and I have spent much of my waking life
>> marveling over their foldings of language. 
>> Yet, after reading more Marx, Foucault, Lacan, I came to believe that this
>> genre called "post-modern literature" missed some very fundamental mark.
>> Their hearts were in the right place, but when the future story of past
>> thought is told, I felt these authors would be found in the narrative of our
>> era's growing, extreme, and almost baroque excesses. That in-fact Wallace
>> was an example of well-crafted late-Modernism, and not what comes next.
>> That said, I think it is exactly this breakdown-in-transition IN Literature,
>> or at least in popular academic literary analysis, that prevents Alan and
>> Rob's critique to spread/permeate into places like Yale. 
>> I'll give one example of why I think this. Save for very few practices an
>> author rarely concedes crafting the social affect of their literature, nor
>> do most academics publicly study the social function of literature as
>> part-in-parcel with linguistic accomplishments. Not that the two fields
>> don't sometimes overlap, but the idea of Einstein's Proofs being an example
>> of code that is worthy of literary analysis, falls so completely flat to
>> someone that has never considered the physical universe as a prosthetic of
>> language. 
>> Most bookworms gots distracted by the bindings; forgots that the words have
>> the powers, because the words have the peoples. Maybe Lot 49 was crying
>> because it forgot its point, or its peoples? I always felt like Pynchon was
>> leading me on a wild goose chase toward red herrings, but then there would
>> be these plateaus of sense-making, all too inconceivably arranged.
>> ========================================================
>>      Or another ugly way of putting it, I hate lists, however defined
>>      (again) - on a personal level because someone or some group is
>>      always excluded, and since I'm more often than not in that
>>      group, I see them, themselves, as hegemonic in function,
>>      although not in intention.
>> [2] Jimmy Wales daughter. Alan's rejection of Lists in general.
>> Wiki-literature and collaborative writing.
>> I played legos with Jimmy Wales' daughter one time. I showed up to some
>> random Hackathon in an attic of an old office building and there was a
>> five-year-old playing in the corner. So I helped babysit, since there seemed
>> to be a lack. Only to find out that the father, inventor of Wikipedia, had
>> been mobbed and absconded in the green room, prior to his presentation to
>> twenty or less completely unprepared "bar-camp"
>> participant+volunteer+organizers. Childcare was not the only thing they had
>> failed to provide, but the event is not the important part.
>> Along the way, Jimmy uttered this amazingly concise statement on network
>> technology; he said that wiki was the only technology that brought people
>> together in agreement. Forums and mailing lists like this, have
>> statistically demonstrable problems with sustainable agreement. Usually the
>> loudest and most extreme voices push out the meager marginal voices,
>> approaching both hegemony and harmony, and eventually banality as a room
>> full of bullies agreeing with e'chotha'.
>> Don't get me wrong; I love this list and I think Alan does too. None the
>> less, Lists in general, have issues. My critique is that if, if the source
>> code of both a forum and a wiki were fun to read, it would be the wiki that
>> best responds to literary analysis. I believe there must be some
>> 'functional' requirement that cannot be explained computationally,
>> mathematically or linguistically. In this way, a wiki is more functional
>> than a forum or mailing list, and thus its source more literary.
>> Now, the word "function" has 15 different meanings in these contexts, so let
>> me be specific. I am using "function" as a User Experience designer would,
>> to mean the eventual social affect of the work. I am not talking about
>> "functional mathematics" and I definitely am attempting to discredit "code
>> quality". If we consider software as literature, one could write the most
>> efficient program ever, but if it does not change someone's life or show
>> them something special, then it has failed as literature. Imo, code as
>> literature has even more qualifications: achievement in linguistics,
>> readability, computational artistry, mathematical relevance and functional
>> evocativeness.
>> But even this 'functional' becomes its own little rabbit hole (read:
>> problematic). Wikis are a collaborative writing engine, so to measure the
>> social ramifications of this technology, we would have to compare all of the
>> literature that the technology begot. Additionally, the source code, Media
>> Wiki, has it's own lineage of forks, each of them enabling reams of
>> derivative, affected works, ripe for analysis. Mathematically, some Media
>> Wiki forks do super advanced shiznit with "distributed" updates and their
>> "eventual synchrony" though this comes more from cloud computing than wiki
>> technology. The Media Wiki source code is pretty well commented, but of
>> course it could be more poetic if somebody had half-a-mind to write it that
>> way.
>> Even then, Authorship takes a nose dive into oblivion (read: existentialism)
>> say when you consider wiki-fan-fiction to be a derivative work relevant to
>> the reading of the source. Collaborative Writing then bares it's ugly head,
>> and the whole situation starts to feel like families of fungi popping
>> up, disparate yet globally connected through a vast underground (read:
>> imperceptible) root system (read: diaspora).
>> Then what do we have? A big ball full of yarn? notin' but electrons and
>> economics I guess.
>> ========================================================
> ==
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> ==
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