The Software Arts (Software Studies) (Hardcover)

By Warren Sack, Matthew Fuller (Editor), Lev Manovich (Editor)

Mit Press, 9780262039703, 400pp.

Publication Date: April 9, 2019

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Description

An alternative history of software that places the liberal arts at the very center of software's evolution.

In The Software Arts, Warren Sack offers an alternative history of computing that places the arts at the very center of software's evolution. Tracing the origins of software to eighteenth-century French encyclopedists' step-by-step descriptions of how things were made in the workshops of artists and artisans, Sack shows that programming languages are the offspring of an effort to describe the mechanical arts in the language of the liberal arts.

Sack offers a reading of the texts of computing--code, algorithms, and technical papers--that emphasizes continuity between prose and programs. He translates concepts and categories from the liberal and mechanical arts--including logic, rhetoric, grammar, learning, algorithm, language, and simulation--into terms of computer science and then considers their further translation into popular culture, where they circulate as forms of digital life. He considers, among other topics, the "arithmetization" of knowledge that presaged digitization; today's multitude of logics; the history of demonstration, from deduction to newer forms of persuasion; and the post-Chomsky absence of meaning in grammar. With The Software Arts, Sack invites artists and humanists to see how their ideas are at the root of software and invites computer scientists to envision themselves as artists and humanists.



About the Author

Warren Sack is a media theorist, software designer, and artist whose work explores theories and designs for online public space and public discussion. He is Chair + Professor of Film + Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he teaches digital arts and digital studies. He has been a visiting professor in France at Sciences Po, the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme, and Télécom ParisTech. His artwork has been exhibited by SFMOMA (San Francisco), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany). His scholarship and research has been supported by the Paris Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Sunlight Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Warren received his PhD from the MIT Media Lab and a BA from Yale College.