Critical Code Studies is a newish field of study- one that does a close textual reading of computer code (lots to read here). Some of its key questions are:
- How do we read code critically?
- How can we interpret it?
- How are hermeneutics applied to the interpretation of source code?
- What is the significance of doing so?
My own interests in studying code come from recent investigations into how normativities are invisibly incorporated into our new everyday digital realities. Any digital object is comprised of multiple, intersecting histories and genealogies across hardware, such as mobile technologies and computers; software such as web and phone applications; systems of use such as website form creation and crowd-sourced folksonomies, and how people interact, create and live with and around these realities. Together, they form an interlocking matrix that should be untangled in order to more fully understand and engage with the digital systems that define and place us everyday.
The internet, for example- from the hardware and backbone, to the software and user interaction- is framed by how humans understand themselves and each other. And not just any humans, but specific humans, who are, amongst other things, aged, gendered, classed, raced, sexualized, nationalized, and educated in particular ways. These specific humans created meaning through interactions, through doing, and through a ‘doing’ conceived in a particular relationship between action and meaning, by particular bodies, with particular intentions.
Untangling this matrix requires a close reading and queer interpretation of the code that underlies it. Over at HASTAC, myself and a number of other HASTAC Scholars and invited guests will be discussing, reading, analyzing, interpreting, and commenting on code snippets, along with a larger theoretical discussion about critical code studies and, for me at least, how it intersects with queerness and normativity.
I hope you’ll join us there.