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This collection of short expository, critical and speculative texts offers a field guide to the cultural, political, social and aesthetic impact of software. Experts from a range of disciplines each take a key topic in software and the understanding of software, such as algorithms and logical structures.
What matters in understanding digital media? Is looking at the external appearance and audience experience of software enough -- or should we look further? In Expressive Processing, Noah Wardrip-Fruin argues that understanding what goes on beneath the surface, the computational processes that make digital media function, is essential. Wardrip-Fruin looks at "expressive processing" by examining specific works of digital media ranging from the simulated therapist Eliza to the complex city-planning game SimCity. Digital media, he contends, offer particularly intelligible examples of things we need to understand about software in general; if we understand, for instance, the capabilities and histories of artificial intelligence techniques in the context of a computer game, we can use that understanding to judge the use of similar techniques in such higher-stakes social contexts as surveillance.
Although media studies and digital humanities are established fields, their overlaps have not been examined in depth. This comprehensive collection fills that gap, giving readers a critical guide to understanding the array of methodologies and projects operating at the intersections of media, culture, and practice. Topics include: access, praxis, social justice, design, interaction, interfaces, mediation, materiality, remediation, data, memory, making, programming, and hacking.
An exploration of software code as meaningful communication through which amateur and professional software developers construct arguments--Winner of the 2017 DRC Book Prize!
Software has replaced a diverse array of physical, mechanical, and electronic technologies used before 21st century to create, store, distribute and interact with cultural artifacts. It has become our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination - a universal language through which the world speaks, and a universal engine on which the world runs. What electricity and combustion engine were to the early 20th century, software is to the early 21st century. Offering the the first theoretical and historical account of software for media authoring and its effects on the practice and the very concept of 'media,' the author of The Language of New Media (2001) develops his own theory for this rapidly-growing, always-changing field. What was the thinking and motivations of people who in the 1960 and 1970s created concepts and practical techniques that underlie contemporary media software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, Final Cut and After Effects? How do their interfaces and tools shape the visual aesthetics of contemporary media and design? What happens to the idea of a 'medium' after previously media-specific tools have been simulated and extended in software? Is it still meaningful to talk about different mediums at all? Lev Manovich answers these questions and supports his theoretical arguments by detailed analysis of key media applications such as Photoshop and After Effects, popular web services such as Google Earth, and the projects in motion graphics, interactive environments, graphic design and architecture. Software Takes Command is a must for all practicing designers and media artists and scholars concerned with contemporary media.
An argument that we must read code for more than what it does—we must consider what it means. Computer source code has become part of popular discourse. Code is read not only by programmers but by lawyers, artists, pundits, reporters, political activists, and literary scholars; it is used in political debate, works of art, popular entertainment, and historical accounts. In this book, Mark Marino argues that code means more than merely what it does; we must also consider what it means. We need to learn to read code critically. Marino presents a series of case studies—ranging from the Climategate scandal to a hactivist art project on the US-Mexico border—as lessons in critical code reading. Marino shows how, in the process of its circulation, the meaning of code changes beyond its functional role to include connotations and implications, opening it up to interpretation and inference—and misinterpretation and reappropriation. The Climategate controversy, for example, stemmed from a misreading of a bit of placeholder code as a “smoking gun” that supposedly proved fabrication of climate data. A poetry generator created by Nick Montfort was remixed and reimagined by other poets, and subject to literary interpretation. Each case study begins by presenting a small and self-contained passage of code—by coders as disparate as programming pioneer Grace Hopper and philosopher Friedrich Kittler—and an accessible explanation of its context and functioning. Marino then explores its extra-functional significance, demonstrating a variety of interpretive approaches.
Achieving what is often termed "software trustworthiness" has been an elusive goal, in part because of the lack of a clear understanding of why we sometimes succeed but often fail to produce trustworthy software. To better understand the challenges the United States faces in achieving the goal of producing and acquiring trustworthy software systems and products, a workshop on the subject of trustworthy software was held April 8-9, 2004 in Monterey, California. The 22 papers presented at the workshop are contained in this proceedings, which is intended to be used as input to a national research and development (R & D) agenda on software trustworthiness.

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