ⓘ Critical code studies


ⓘ Critical code studies

Critical code studies is an emerging academic subfield, related to software studies, digital humanities, cultural studies, computer science, human-computer interface, and the do-it-yourself maker culture. Its primary focus is on the cultural significance of computer code, without excluding or focusing solely upon the codes functional purpose.

As introduced by Mark C. Marino, critical code studies was initially a method by which scholars "can read and explicate code the way we might explicate a work of literature," but the concept also draws upon Espen Aarseths conception of a cybertext as a "mechanical device for the production and consumption of verbal signs" Cybertext, 21, arguing that in order to understand a digital artifact we must also understand the constraints and capabilities of the authoring tools used by the creator of the artifact, as well as the memory storage and interface required for the user to experience the digital artifact.

Evidence that critical code studies has gained momentum since 2006 include an article by Matthew Kirschenbaum in the Chronicle of Higher Education, CCS sessions at the Modern Language Association in 2011 that were "packed" with attendees, several academic conferences devoted wholly to critical code studies, and a book devoted to the explication of a single line of computer code, titled 10 PRINT CHR$205.5+RND1);: GOTO 10.


1. Bibliography

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  • Kirschenbaum, M. 2004 Extreme Inscription: Towards a Grammatology of the Hard Drive’, TEXT Technology, No. 2, pp. 91–125.
  • Marino, M. C. 2006 Critical Code Studies, Electronic Book Review, accessed 16 Sept 2011,
  • Berry, D. M. 2011 The Philosophy of Software: Code and Mediation in the Digital Age, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kittler, F. 1999 Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
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  • 2008 CLAMP in Context: A Critical Study of the Manga and Anime by Dani Cavallaro The C s World. Episode 15 of Season 2 of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
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