Critical Code Studies, the blog

In previous posts on this site (1, 2) , I have outlined some of the basic proposal for Critical Code Studies (CCS), and the fullest articulation appears in the electronic book review, here. Last year at MLA and more recently at SLSA, I offered more of the fundamentals and met many who expressed interest in or affinities for the project. Here, I am announcing a new blog that will be a hub of CCS work, known as

The blog will feature links and announcements about recent work in Critical Code Studies and will build a bibliography of works in the field. A vetted link list, a feed, and a Library Thing catalog offer lists of resources. The posts themselves will hold many of the discussions and reposts of related discussions. I will also reprint posts of CFPs related to CCS as well as notices on relevant panels at conferences. The goal is to identify where CCS is happening and news on the latest developments.

Since CriticalCodeStudies addresses an object of study, rather than pursuing a strain of theory, the focus on the blog is not a particular theory or any one theorist. However, since there is so little interpretation of code in the field, so little close reading of specific lines of source code, I felt it would be useful to build a node that links into articles, books, posts, and other works that would be of benefit to those who wish to interpret code. Many have expressed to me a desire to perform CCS, but a desire for models. The new blog will collect and at some point even attempt to catalog some of these models.

The recent conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts focusing on the theme of “Code” proved once again that this is the moment to pursue CCS. Papers by Nick Montfort, Katherine Behar, Braxton Soderman, Dave Parry, Ian Bogost, Beth Coleman, Christian Ulrich Andersen, Gary Wolf and many others took up the questions related to the meaning of source code or the way code signifies, and several of these talks even analyzed specific lines of code.

Which brings me to the next reason for the blog, to collect resources for code to be analyzed. Although there are many programs operating around us, not all of them make their code available or lend themselves easily to close reading. Since I began pursuing CCS, I have found it challenging to locate sources of accessible and historically situated source code. Compendiums such as the Collected Algorithms of the ACM or Nick Montfort’s Favorite Basic Computer Games offer historically situated algorithms with clear social contexts. Various Internet sites offer even more code, although not always so clearly attributed or documented. In any event, will post paths to such arbors of code.

From what I saw at SLSA, the community working on CCS is growing. I hope to foster this growth by bringing authors into and by referencing others who are involved in the work. Since CCS is just beginning to take off, all avenues are approach are welcome. If you have an interest in this work or resources to offer, please contact me.

4 Responses to “Critical Code Studies, the blog”

  1. 1 Christy Dena

    Congrats Mark! :)

  2. 2 J. James Bono

    Hello, Mark!

    I’ve had this site in my RSS reader for a while now, but never realized that it was your blog! It was nice meeting you at SLSA (and again in the airport) and I really enjoyed your presentation. I’ll definitely be following Critical Code Studies from now on.



  1. 1 William Patrick Wend » Critical Code Studies
  2. 2 Joining the Software Studies Initiative at UCSD at WRT: Writer Response Theory

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