Based on the discussions on Wednesday, from the question "what is software" to various methods to observe, which could help to map the differences in understanding what software is and how it can be observed. // note: z.Blace followed up with drafting a text http://etherbox.lan:9001/p/TowardsRelationalObservatories


software - mainstream (marketing + popular software) - academic - software studies

who are we / for who are we for which communities do we speak? - FLOSS dev/users - mainstream marketed/commercial

~ non profit organisations ~ political social agenda ~ minority/niche

Each of these backgrounds do create different narratives.

for example: perspective of popular mainstream software culture as FLOSS dev >>> lens

perspective > lens > matrix > perspective > etc. critique > vision > narrative > critique > etc.

multiple axes: - time, histories * promises/failures * used/abandoned * novel trendy/classic

Economy could be another axe. Also, geography could be another axe in the case of Belgium.

To answer the question "what is software" depends on the situation, goal, time, and other contextual influences.

anekdotes Why spip. cms is more popular in Walloniƫ than in Flanders? (where it is drupal) What kind of software was developed in Eastern Europe? Something that came up in the tour with Jan at the UNI of Leuven. MOS, a Russian UNIX clone.

Some boundaries that appear to be fuzzy when we try to define them (appeared wed. // thurs.):



This morning, Jan had difficulties to answer the question "what is software", but he said that he could answer the question "what is good software". What is good software? The more adjectives, the easier the answering?

A qualifier like "good", "bad", "spy", "queer", "proletarian", "bourgeisoie" can help narrow down definitions.

Are user now the human computer from before? The position of the user?



spreadsheet proposal A person walks in the clinic with their computer/smartphone, how do we observe that software? - ideology

From the other side: How is your software looking back at you?

Would the metaphor of the anatomic theater help here? Perhaps the metaphor does not fit, in the way that we cannot look into software (for example cloud based services). Also, cutting open a body to see if it holded a disease, is a very material approach.

But for now we stay with the metaphor, to come up with a better one later.

adding a cqualifier ahead of "software" (i.e. good software, graphical software, os, social software etc) could be helpful when identifying method of examination/observation, may help etsblish/shape perspective

observation: source code or?? front end/back end making/using ideology of software package

random astonomical obervation sfotware