the ego page

Critical Code Studies is a small but growing field of study, founded by Mark Marino in 2006, in which humanists read and analyze the extra-functional aspects of computer code as a sign system to gain further meaning.
(computer) code for everyday digital technologies/objects is (usually) written by a human, or a group of humans, who have preconceived notions about the world, through their own common senses, knowledges, and values that enable them to do their work according to best practices and web-standardizations.
This paper focuses on the programmer’s embodiment of the code and how the programmer brings notions of the world into the code itself, thereby creating an invisible layer of embedded normativity. I argue that the embodied actions of developers (and their socio-historical entanglements), along with standards and best practices, normalize our everyday digital interactions, rendering certain embodiments invisible.
The programmer (and development team) are humans who are, amongst other things, aged, gendered, classed, raced, sexualized, nationalized, and educated in particular ways. These specific humans create meaning for our current interactions with, in and through multiple intersecting histories and genealogies over the space and time of the Internet.
On August 12, 2007, Facebook had a server glitch which for a short time exposed some unexecuted code for its user home page. Many people took the liberty of posting this proprietary code snippet across the web, and it was confirmed by Facebook to be real. How does this impact everyday life? How does embedded normativity within the code render the content inaccessible? (or doesn’t it?) How are our physical bodies rendered in code? What do we learn when we read the ‘code’ that represents us?
Untangling this matrix requires a close reading and queer interpretation of the code that underlies it. Using queer theory, phenomenology and critical code studies, I uncover what it means to queerly read the developer’s embodiment of the code for popular social media objects, such as user profiles and website taxonomies.
Screenshot taken of code snippet that checks for login information, calls for, checks and places announcements, advertising, friends, posts, pokes, upcoming events, birthdays, friend requests, status updates, time zones, and photos.

Related Conference Presentations / Talks

Queer Profiles: embodying (computer) code
Theorizing the Web
University of Maryland, 2011
the_ego_page: queerly reading (computer) code
DC Queer Studies Symposium
University of Maryland, 2011
Critical Code Studies Forum
HASTAC, 2011
Critical Code Studies Working Group, 2012