Language in the Other Software


  • Chandler B. McWilliams


Friedrich Kittler’s analysis of software in his essay “There is no Software” evacuates the programmer from the realm of the computer by focusing too intently on the machine and its specific, material existence. As a result, he posits the material action of computers, in the form of voltages, as the essential site of the being of computers. This paper attempts to thread the needle between a reading of code-as-text that obfuscates the procedural nature of code, and an overly technical description of programming that reinstates the machine as the essential arbiter of authentic acts of programming. By reasserting the presence of the programmer and exploring the variety of types of coding, this essay offers an alternate description of the being of software, one which emphasizes not just the execution of code on the machine, but also the programmer’s role as reader and writer of code.