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Code acts in code/space


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Paper presented at Code Acts in Education, an ESRC seminar at the University of Stirling, January 28th 2014,

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Code acts in code/space

  1. 1. Code Acts in Education Code Acts in Code/Space: Making Sense of Software Mediated Education Rob Kitchin 28/1/14, Stirling, Scotland The Programmable City Project NIRSA, NUIM
  2. 2. Introduction • • Over time everyday life has become increasingly reliant on software ... work, play, consumption, travel, communication, governance • • It is almost impossible to live outside the orbit of software Many systems would largely malfunction without software • • Software, to varying degrees, conditions existence Life and places are increasingly full of coded objects and coded infrastructures that support coded processes and combine to constitute coded assemblages
  3. 3. Coded Objects • Machine-readable objects • • • Coded objects Codejects (DVD player, washing machine, digital thermostat) Logjects • Impermeable logjects (MP3 player, GPS, camera) • Permeable logjects (mobile phones, satellite television)
  4. 4. Coded infrastructures • • Coded infrastructure refers both to networks that link together coded objects and infrastructure that is monitored and regulated, either fully or in part, by code Such coded infrastructure include: • • • • • • computing networks (e.g. Internet, intranets) communication and entertainment networks (e.g. mail, telephone, mobile phones, television, radio, satellite) utility networks (e.g. water, electricity, gas, sewerage) transport and logistics networks (e.g. air, train, road, shipping) financial networks (e.g. bank intranets, stock markets) security and policing networks (e.g. surveillance cameras)
  5. 5. Coded processes • • • • Coded processes refer to the transaction and flow of digital data across coded infrastructure Particularly important when they access, update, and monitor relational databases that hold individual and institutional data Such databases can be accessed at a distance and used to verify, monitor (say for billing purposes) and regulate user access to a network, update personal files Many such coded processes relate to bank accounts, mortgages, shares, taxation, insurance, health, crime, utility usage, service usage
  6. 6. Coded assemblages • • • Coded assemblages are where several different coded infrastructures converge, becoming integral to each other in producing particular environments, such as office complexes, transport systems, shopping centres, etc For example, the coded infrastructures of water, electricity, gas, banks and mortgage lenders, commodities, Internet, telephone, mail, television, state database systems, etc, work together to create an assemblage that produces individual households The power of assemblages is their interconnection and interdependence creating systems whose complexity and power are much greater than the sum of their parts
  7. 7. Software and everyday life • Software is diversely embedded in everyday life and is bound-up in, and contributes to, complex discursive and material practices • Understanding the difference software makes necessitates thinking critically about the • the nature of software • the work that software does in the world • • • Software and space Software and governance Software and education
  8. 8. The nature of software • • • • • • Software consists of lines of code – instructions and algorithms that when combined together, and supplied with appropriate data, produce routines and programs capable of complex digital functions It can be produced through many languages and takes diverse forms It is a social product, constructed by many minds, and emerges in contingent, relational and contextual ways It is a complex, multifaceted, mutable set of relations created through diverse sets of discursive, economic and material practices. It enables diverse processes - it undertakes work in the world; this work can be executed across networks While it is not sentient and conscious, it can exhibit some of the characteristics of ‘being alive’; it has ‘secondary agency’
  9. 9. The work software does • Software participates rather than simply represents the world because it possesses high technicity • Technicity is the unfolding or evolutive power of technologies to make things happen Technicity is realised through a process of transduction • • • • Transduction is the process by which ‘a domain structures itself as a partial, always incomplete solution to a relational problem’; it is the process of ontogenesis, the making anew of a domain through reiterative and transformative individuations Individuations consist of discursive and material practices that result in a modulation in conditions of a person and their milieu Each individuation provisionally solves a problem within a domain, this replaced by new problems
  10. 10. The transduction of space • • • • • For example, a person travelling through a city constantly changes their relation to their milieu thus posing a continuous supply of new problems Space is produced through transductive individuations Space is constantly being bought into being ‘as an incomplete solution to a relational problem’ The relational problem is ongoing encounters between individuals and environment and the solution, to a greater or lesser extent, is software Relational problems include undertaking domestic tasks, travelling between locations, conducting work, communicating between people, and practicing consumption
  11. 11. Transducing Space • Coded objects, infrastructures, processes and assemblages, the technicity they engender, transduce space – beckons new spatial formations into existence
  12. 12. Code/space • • • • • Code/spaces are spaces dependent on code to function wherein the materiality of everyday life and its attendant virtual coding are mutually constituted Here, the relationship between code and space is dyadic – that is, without code the space would not be transduced as intended (hence ‘code/space’ rather than ‘coded space’) Old non-software means of doing things have sometimes disappeared Coded space is a transduction that is mediated by code, but whose relationship is not dyadic Software mediates the solution to a problem, but it is not the only solution
  13. 13. Producing code/space • • Code/spaces are non-deterministic and non-universal; they are contingent and relational How code/space actually operates and is experienced is open to rupture: • • • • • embodied through the performances and interactions of the people within the space (between people, and between people and code). embedded within histories and geographies and emergent processes In this sense, code/space is not consistently produced, always manufactured and experienced the same Instead, code/space is constantly in a state of becoming, produced through individual performance and social interactions that are mediated, consciously or unconsciously, in relation to the mutual constitution of code/space Code/spaces need to be analysed as complex systems with emergent properties
  14. 14. Management/governance • Software is employed as an regulatory agent • Directed surveillance • Automated surveillance that seeks to enforce more effective • • (self)disciplining Capture systems that actively reshape activity Voluntary systems/sousveillance • The regulatory environment of code/space is increasingly • that of automated management Automated in the sense that it is enacted by technologies and are automated, automatic, autonomous in nature
  15. 15. Code and Education • Increasingly the practices and spaces of education are being mediated and augmented by software-enabled technologies • Teaching materials are being created using software programmes • Teaching is being co-delivered through digital media, supported by • • • • • • digital ancillary material and social media platforms Various forms of assessment are being administered and processed using software packages Classrooms are enhanced with digital projectors and smart interfaces Administration is reliant on spreadsheets and online forms Oversight are calculative practices exercised with key performance indicators Research and fieldwork is increasingly mediated by digital technologies -- the internet, cameras, voice recorders, sensors – that produce volumes of digital data that are analyzed using analytics software Publishing is mediated by software – writing, sharing, production, etc
  16. 16. Code and Education • • • Education takes place in coded spaces, code/space Software is making a difference to: • the way in which education is conceived and delivered • the educational practices of education (teaching, admin, research) • the management and governance of education Yet little critical attention has been paid to thinking through role of code in reshaping the educational landscape
  17. 17. Code and Education Data, Discourses, Practices, Knowledges Translation: Education into Code SOFTWARE EDUCATION Transduction: Code reshapes Education Mediation, Augmentation, Facilitation, Regulation
  18. 18. Conclusion • Software makes a difference to everyday life • It mediates and augments many practices • It is reshaping space, governance and education • Yet, little critical attention has been focused on software as a • key actant; to interrogate the way it is created and the work it does in the world Much more theoretical and empirical work is required, drawing on software studies, to make sense of the coded assemblages of education and their transductive effects and role in mediating, augmenting and reshaping practices and structures
  19. 19. Thank you Q&A @robkitchin