Notes for Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life
Key concepts: audits of coded objects, automated management, blogject, capta, captabase, capta shadow, capta trail, capture model, citational practices, code/space, coded assemblages, coded infrastructures, coded objects, coded processes, coded space, codeject, discursive regime, dyadic relationship, everyware, flat ontology, grammar of action, hard codeject, individuation, logject, oligopticon, software use audit, technicity, technology of the self, transduction, unitary codeject.
Related theorists: Philip Agre, Mark Andrejevic, Louis Althusser, Beer, David Berry, Bleecker, Roger Burrows, Judith Butler, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Matthew Fuller, Gramelsberger, Adrian Mackenzie, Lev Manovich, Rose, Nigel Thrift, Ellen Ullman.
Fourth book in the Software Studies series investigates how software generates new kinds of space and invests the mundane with new capacities of surveillance.
another route, by showing how software expands out of the computer,
becoming spatially active. In doing so software generates behaviors
and opportunities, and traffics in meanings, readings, and
(vii) What Code/Space shows is that the ways in which software interpolates, mixes with, and takes part in the generation of new kinds of space is incredibly rich and requires attentive means to understand it. The numerous cases discussed here—from travel, home life, consumption, social control—all emphasize the authors' call for a sustained and differentiated empirical study of software as parts of particular sites, and as something that weaves them together. The way in which software invests the mundane with capacities for logging, tracking, and reporting lacks sustained and detailed attention, and which in turn is experienced differentially according to multiple dimensions of relationality suggest new means of understanding and studying software and its places in contemporary life.
1 Introducing Code/Space
(3) We detail how software produces new ways of doing things, speeds up and automates existing practices, reshapes information exchange, transforms social and economic relations and formations, and creates new horizons for cultural activity. And we do so by explicitly making software the focus of critical attention rather than the technologies it enables.
Hierarchical complexity analogous to organic complexity; try to get us to use terms capta and captabases in place of data and databases.
(4-5) Software is diverse in nature, varying from abstract machine code and assembly language to more formal programming languages, applications, user-created macros, and scripts. One way to consider these forms is as a set of hierarchically organized entities of increasing complexity that parallel that of organic entities (figure 1.1). . . . (capta are units that have been selected and harvested from the sum of all potential data).
Secondary agency when software executes itself, forming technological unconscious (Mackenzie, Thrift).
(5) When software executes itself, it possesses what Mackenzie (2006) terms secondary agency. However, because software is embedded into objects and systems in often subtle and opaque ways, it largely forms a technological unconscious that is noticed only when it performs incorrectly or fails (Thrift 2004b, Graham and Thrift 2007).
Four levels of software embedding in everyday life: coded objects, infrastructures, processes, assemblages.
We see software as embedded in everyday life at four levels of
activity, producing what we term coded
objects, coded infrastructures, coded processes,
(5) Coded objects are objects that are reliant on software to perform as designed.
(6) Coded infrastructures are both networks that link coded objects together and infrastructures that are monitored and regulated, fully or in part, by software.
(6) Coded processes consist of the transactions and flows of digital capta across coded infrastructure. . . . Part of the power of relational captabases is that they hold common fields that allow several captabases to be cross-referenced and compared precisely by software.
(7) Coded assemblages occur where several different coded infrastructures converge, working together—in nested systems or in parallel, some using coded processes and others not—and become integral to one another over time in producing particular environments, such as automated warehouses, hospitals, transport systems, and supermarkets.
(7) Although the focus of this book is not computer and communications technologies per se, it is important to acknowledge the extent to which computing power has multiplied dramatically in terms of operating speed since the first modern computers were built during World War II, enabling the widespread distribution of software-enabled devices.
(8) Computer memory and storage have grown significantly, in tandem with the tremendous improvements in processing power. . . . This growth in storage capabilities enables radically different strategies of information management: deletion of old information is becoming unnecessary, continuous recording is a possibility, and individuals can carry with them enormous amounts of capta in a tiny gadget (see chapter 5).
(9) Communication among computational devices has also become easier, faster, and more widely available.
Era of everyware.
(9) As we discuss in chapter 10, some commentators say that we are entering a new age—Greenfield (2006) refers to this as everyware—in which computing becomes pervasive and ubiquitous. In this new era, software mediates almost every aspect of everyday life.
The Power of Code
Compare governmental reliance on office applications and software systems to Nazi reliance on punched card machinery.
(10) Perhaps the best illustration of the contemporary social and economic importance of software was the widespread concern at the end of 1990s associated with the Y2K millennium bug, which triggered a wholesale overhaul of software systems in many nations. . . . Indeed, such is the reliance by governments and businesses on a raft of office applications and larger software systems that it is now unthinkable to backtrack to a predigital age: the nature of tasks has changed, staff levels have been reduced and deskilled in many cases, and operational networks and transactions have become much more complex and interdependent.
Disciplinarity, interpellation, production like Foucault biopower.
(11) And yet the reason that digital technologies are so popular is that they make societies safer, healthier, and richer overall even as they do the work to regulate societies. . . . In Althusser's (1971) terms, software-driven technologies induce a process of interpellation, wherein people willingly and volunatarily subscribe to and desire their logic, trading potential disciplinary effects against benefits gained. . . . We need to understand how this production unfolds in different social and spatial contexts.
Society, and Space
(11) Until recently software was largely ignored by the social sciences and humanities. Instead, with perhaps the exception of research in computer-mediated communication and computer-supported cooperative work, scholars and commentators tended to focus more broadly on the information and communication technologies (ICTs) that software enables, in particular the Internet, rather than to more specifically consider the role of code in relation to those technologies and wider society.
Appeal to Manovich and Fuller as originators of software studies.
(12) Software studies is a fledgling field. Although work within this field predates the new millennium, the first notion of the field itself can be trace to Manovich (2000, 48), who argued that “to understand the logic of new media we need to turn to computer science.” . . . In conjunction, Fuller (2008, 2) argues that the field “proposes that software can be seen as an object of study and an area of practice for the kinds of thinking and areas of work that have not historically 'owned' software, or indeed often had much to say about it.”
In addition to ignoring role of software on space and automated management, ironically very little code actually cited in the software studies referenced: need more working code.
Software studies to date tend to ignore spaces in which software and people work.
Software studies focuses on the etiology of code and how code makes
digital technologies what they are and shapes what they do. It seeks
to open the black box of processors and arcane algorithms to
understand how software—its lines and routines of code—does work
in the world by instructing various technologies how to act.
(13) All too often, however, they focus on the role of software in social information, organization, and regulation, as if people and things exist in time only, with space a mere neutral backdrop. . . . Space is not simply a container in which things happen; rather, spaces are subtly evolving layers of context and practices that fold together people and things and actively shape social relations. . . . Software matters because it alters the conditions through which society, space, and time, and thus spatiality, are produced.
(13) Our principal argument, then, is that an analysis of software requires a thoroughly spatial approach.
(16) we develop a distinct understanding of spatiality that conceives the world as ontogenetic in formulation (that is, constantly in a state of becoming) and rethink software-based governance as a system of automated management.
Automated management and transduction generate code/space as variable rather than fixed ontology.
(16) Software, we argue, alternatively modulates how space comes into being through a process of transduction (the constant making anew of a domain in reiterative and transformative practices). . . . Taking the ideas of transduction and automated management together, our central argument is that the spatialities and governance of everyday life unfold in diverse ways through the mutual constitution of software and sociospatial practices. The nature of this mutual constitution is captured in our concept of code/space.
What is Code/Space?
Dyadic relationship between software systems and dependent spaces, for example airline check-in area; coded space is not dyadic in sense that it degrades but is not destroyed without its code functioning correctly.
Code/space occurs when software and the spatiality of everyday life
become mutually constituted, that is, produced through one another.
Here, spatiality is the product of code, and the code exists
primarily in order to produce a particular spatiality. In other
words, a dyadic
between code and spatiality. For example, a check-in area at an
airport can be described as a code/space. The spatiality of the
check-in area is dependent on software. If the software crashes, the
area reverts from a space in which to check in to a fairly chaotic
(17) Any space that is dependent on software-driven technologies to function as intended constitutes a code/space: workplaces . . . transport . . . and large components of the communications, media, finance, and entertainment industries.
(17) Any space that has the latent capacity to be transduced by code constitutes a code/space at the moment of that transduction. . . . Code/space is thus both territorialized (in the case of a supermarket) and deterritorialized (in the case of mobile transductions).
(18) In coded space, software matters to the production and functioning of a space, but if the code fails, the space continues to function as intended, although not necessarily as efficiently or cost efficiently, or safely.
Regimes Underpinning Code/Space
(18-19) The adoption of software and digital technologies, and the systems, networks, and ways of doing they underpin, have been complemented by a broad set of discursive regimes that have sought to justify their development and naturalize their use. For Foucault (1977), a discursive regime is a set of interlocking discourses that sustain and reproduce, through processes of definition and exclusion, intelligibility and legitimacy, a particular set of sociospatial conditions.
(19) the development and employment of different types of software and digital technologies are underpinned by their own particular, distinctive discursive regime. That said, they usually consist of an amalgam of a number of common discourses: safety, security, efficiency, antifraud, empowerment, productivity, reliability, flexibility, economic rationality, and competitive advantage. . . . These discourses are often promoted by government in tandem with business, driven by the interests of capitalism and, increasingly, the agenda of neoliberalism focused on the delivery of social services for profit within a target-driven culture.
Localized resistances and transformations key to microcircuits of power, although Edwards and Golumbia will argue it is minor in comparison.
Example of localized negotiation in bending ISO declaration of work processes made law by segregation of duties enforced by commit rights for source code revision control system.
(19) The constituent elements of a discursive regime work to promote and make commonsense their message, but also to condition and discipline. Their power is persuading people to their logic—to believe and act in relation to this logic. As Foucault (1977, 1978) noted, however, a discursive regime does not operate solely from the top downward, but through diffused microcircuits of power, the outcome of processes of regulation, self-regulation, and localized resistance. . . . As such, code/spaces and their discursive regimes work to reinforce and deepen their logic and reproduction, at the same time as others seek to undermine, resist, and transform their hegemonic status.
The list of reasons for why there has been little resistance to digital technologies does not include lack of general programming knowledge, making a huge opening for critical programming.
(20) Interestingly, given the increasing power and role of software, resistance to digital technologies has been remarkably mute despite widespread cynicism over the perceived negative effects of computerization. . . . There seem to be a number of reasons for this.
(21) Our conclusions offer a provisional manifesto for critical scholarship into code—a new kind of social science focused on explaining the social, economic, and spatial contours of software.
2 The Nature of Software
Software as product and process situated in development and use, surrounded by discursive and material assemblages, forms of governmentalism, practices, subjectivities, materialities, organizations, and the wider marketplace.
(23-24) we argue that a comprehension of software must appreciate two aspects of code: first, that code is a product of the world and second, that code does work in the world. Software as both product and process, we argue, needs to be understood within a framework that recognizes the contingent, relational, and situated nature of its development and use. . . . Surrounding and coalescing around software are discursive and material assemblages of knowledge (flow diagrams, Gantt charts, experience, manuals, magazines, mailing lists, blogs and forums, scribbled sticky notes), forms of governmentalities (capta standards, file formats, interfaces, conventional statutes, protocols, intellectual property regimes such as copyrights, trademarks, patents), practices (ways of doing, coding cultures, hacker ethos, norms of sharing and stealing code, user upgrading, and patching), subjectivities (relating to coders, sellers, marketers, users), materialities (computer hardware, disks, CDs, desks, offices), organizations (corporations, consultants, manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, universities and conferences, clubs and societies) and the wider marketplace (for code and coders).
Code defined as set of unambiguous instructions for processing elements of capta in computer memory, performing work transducing input.
(24-25) Code at its most simplistic definition is a set of unambiguous instructions for the processing of elements of capta in computer memory. . . . Coded instructions transduce input; that is, the code changes the input from one state to another, and as a consequence the code performs work.
Example Pascal code runs over page boundary.
(25) For example, below is a piece of code that calculates whether a point is inside a polygon (a common evaluative procedure in a geographic information system).
Interesting place of working code by Brown; range of what activities constitute programming.
(26) As Brown (2006) notes, programming languages . . . “sit in an unusual and interesting place—designed for human reading and use, but bound by what is computationally possible.” . . . Programming extends from the initial production of code, to refactoring (rewriting a piece of code to make it briefer and clearer without changing what it does), to editing and updating (tweaking what the code does), to integrating (taking a piece of code that works by itself and connecting it to other code), testing, and debugging, to wholesale rewriting. The skill to model complex problems in code that is effective, efficient, and above all, elegant, is seen as a marker of genuine programming craft.
Ontological power of software, agency, even form of subjectivity constructing sensoriums per Mackenzie, Fuller.
(26) Software has,
at a fundamental level, an ontological power, it is able to realize
whole systems of thought (algorithms and capta) with respect to
(27) Agency is held in these simple algorithms in the sense that they determine, for themselves, what operations do and do not occur. . . . Even in everyday software applications, such as a word processor or web browsers, code enacts millions of algorithmic operations to derive an outcome at a scale of operation so small and fast as to be beyond direct human sensing.
(27) As Mackenzie (2006, 43) notes “algorithms carry, fold, frame and redistribute actions into different environments.” Fuller (2003, 19) thus argues that software can be understood as “a form of digital subjectivity.”
Weather now understood through coded models combing theory, mathematics, code and story (Gramelsberger).
(27-30) This relationship between code algorithms, capta structures, and the world is well illustrated with respect to weather prediction and global climate change modeling. . . . Gramelsberger expresses this as “Theory = Mathematics = Code = Story.” . . . The models are coded theory and they create an experimental system for performing theory (Gramelsberger 2006); or, put another way, the models analyze the world and the world responds to the models.
Visualization creating compelling inscriptions.
(30) A key element of the success of such software models is their ability to generate (spatial) capta that can be visualized to create compelling inscriptions.
Berry 7 types of code grammars: digital data structure, digital stream, delegated code, prescriptive code, code objects, critical code.
(30) David Berry (2008) suggests that the “properties of code can be understood as operating according to a grammar reflected in its materialization and operation,” detailing seven ideal types through which code is manifested.
Code as Product
Code always collaborative social object.
(33) Even if a programmer is working on his or her own, the program is implicitly the result of a collective endeavor—the programmer uses a formalized coding language, proprietary coding packages (and their inherent facilities and defaults), and employs established disciplinary regimes of programming—ways of knowing and doing regarding coding practices and styles, annotation, elegance, robustness, extendibility, and so on (as formalized through manuals, instruction, conventions, peer evaluation, and industry standards). Coding then is always a collaborative manufacture with code being a social object among programmers (Martin and Rooksby 2006).
Code is citational, consisting of embedded, embodied, discursive practices; contingent project choices limit future decisions and outcomes.
(34) Code is developed through
collective cycles of editing, compiling, and testing, undertaken
within diverse, historically-framed, social contexts. It is
citational, we could argue, consisting of embedded, embodied, and
(35) As such, arbitrary choices and contingent progress push projects more or less in a particular direction that then limit future decisions and outcomes.
Quickly changing, diverse environments result in sundry ways of accomplishing similar objectives, with much focus on project management rather than writing code, versus singular depiction of logical operations popular in Floridi.
(35) In other words, programming takes
place in an environment that it is changing so quickly that it is
often difficult to keep up with new developments, and with such
diversity, programmers can differ markedly in their ability to write
good code and in how they think a system should be coded.
(35) The coding itself can be a complex and difficult task, especially when trying to address new problems for which solutions have not been established. As a result, there are various competing schools of thought with regard to how software development should take place, much of it focusing on project management rather than the practice of writing code.
(36) However, even when a particular approach has been adopted, the challenges of creating new code and entwining different elements and algorithms together can produce problems that are intellectually demanding and difficult to solve.
(36-37) Unlike other kinds of product development, adding additional coders to a project to try to resolve problems, somewhat paradoxically, rarely helps. . . . These imperfections in terms of bugs, glitches, and crashes are at once notorious and yet also largely accepted as a routine dimension of computation. . . . These imperfections matter because as well as causing particular problems, they also facilitate new kinds of criminal activity, along with petty digital vandalism.
(37) It is embedded within workplace or hacker cultures, personal interactions and office politics, relationships with customers/users, and the wider political and cultural economy. . . . These negotiations and contestations between individuals and teams are set in the wider political economy of finance and capital investment, market conditions, political/ideological decisions, and also the role of governments and the military-industrial complex in promoting the knowledge society, innovation culture, and underwriting significant amounts of development and training.
Replete with narratives of failure wished for by SCOT, such as Brooks.
(38) Given those statistics, it is no surprise that the software landscape is littered with high profile, massively expensive, failed projects and there is even literature detailing these disasters. . . . A study by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology published in 2002 details that software errors cost the U.S. economy about $59.5 billion annually in 2001 (Rosenberg 2007).
Code is contingent and unstable for being embedded in culture regardless of the care with which it is created.
(38) Code it contingent and unstable—constantly on the verge of collapse as it deals with new data, scenarios, bugs, viruses, communication and hardware platforms and configurations, and users intent on pushing it to its limits.
Code as Process
Code quantitatively extends capacity of electromechanical technologies and can differ qualitatively.
(39) Software thus quantitatively extends the processing capacity of electromechanical technologies, but importantly it also qualitatively differs in its capacity to handle complex scenarios (evaluating capta, judging options), taking variable actions, and having a degree of adaptability.
Secondary agency extending that of others; Latour actant possessing agency.
(39) As Mackenzie (2006) notes, software is often regarded as possessing secondary agency. . . . Code also extends the agency of other machines, technical systems, and infrastructures. This is the case even if these effects are largely invisible from those affected, or where an effect is clear but not the executive role of software behind it. . . . In other words, in Latour's (1993) terms, software is an actant in the world; it possesses agency, explicitly shaping to varying degrees how people live their lives.
Studying blips as evidence of agency (Ullman and Fuller).
(40) Drawing on Ullman's ethnographic work, Fuller (2003, 31) makes the case that code enacts its agency through the production of events—blips--some outcome or action in an assemblage that the software contributes to, “the interpretative and reductive operations carried out on lived processes.” . . . Moreover, these blips are contextual and signifiers of other relations—for example, a person's bank balance is an instantiation of class relations—and they themselves can be worked upon and reinterpreted by code to invent a sequence of new blips.
Power is relational, arising for code as it does for people out of relationships and interactions.
(40) Power is not held and wielded by software; rather, power arises out of interrelationships and interactions between code and the world. . . . In other words, code is permitted to express certain forms of power (to dictate certain outcomes) through the channels, structures, networks, and institutions of societies and permissiveness of those on whom it seeks to work, in the same way that an individual does not hold and wield power but is afforded it by other people, communal norms, and social structures.
Recursive, self-fulfilling relationships developed between code and world.
(41) One of the effects of abstracting the world into software algorithms and data models, and rendering aspects of the world as capta, which are then used as the basis for software to do work in the world, is that the world starts to structure itself in the image of the capta and code—a self-fulfilling, recursive relationship develops.
Code can do work in world because it possesses technicity, which is contingent, negotiated, nuanced (Mackenzie); no neat marriage between coded objects and particular effects because technicity varies as function of code, people, context.
For Mackenzie (2002) the reason why software can do work in the world
is because it possesses technicity.
Technicity refers to the extent to which technologies mediate,
supplement, and augment collective life; the unfolding or evolutive
power of technologies to make things happen in conjunction with
(42-43) Rather, technicity is contingent, negotiated, and nuanced; realized through its practice by people in relation to historical and geographic context. As such, there is no neat marriage between coded objects, infrastructures, processes, and assemblages and particular effects of code. Instead, technicity varies as a function of the nature of code, people, and context.
(44) In part II of the book we expand this analysis to think through the difference that software makes, examining how code alters the nature of objects, affects how space is transduced, changes how societies are governed, and even how software is affording new kinds of creativity and empowerment.
The Difference Software Makes
3 Remaking Everyday Objects
(47) On the one hand, objects are remade and recast through interconnecting circuits of software that makes them uniquely addressable and consistently machine-readable, and thus exposed to external processes of identification and linkage that embeds them in the emerging “Internet of things.” . . . On the other hand, software is being embedded in material objects, imbuing them with an awareness of their environment, and the calculative capacities to conduct their own work in the world with only intermittent human oversight, to record their own use, and to take over aspects of decision making from people.
Making Objects Addressable
Ontological status of each object uniquely indexed, transforming epistemological status, enabling addition work in the world.
(48-49) First, the ontological status of each object is uniquely indexed. . . . Second, individuated identification transforms the epistemological status of each object, with it being useable in new ways and able to do additional work in the world and to be worked upon by other entities such as information systems.
RFID tag example highlights growth of machine to machine knowledge as audit trails as well as elimination of anonymity of mass consumption.
(50-51) Let us consider RFID tags in more detail. . . . Borrowing the
domain name schema used on the Internet, the EPC [Electronic Product
Code] network uses a distributed Object Naming Service (ONS) to link
each EPC number to an appropriate naming authority database that
provides detailed information. Importantly, the querying of the ONS
as RFID tagged products move through supply chains will automatically
create richly-detailed audit trails of capta. The result will be a
much greater degree of routine machine-to-machine generated knowledge
on the status and positioning of many millions of physical objects in
time and space.
(51) Yet bound up with the promises of greater convenience and more orderly domestic routines, is the capacity to make formally hidden and unrecorded actions newly visible to external organizations and to eliminate anonymity from mass consumption because every time an RFID tag is queried it leaves behind a log.
Ontology of coded objects based on significance of software to primary functions: peripherally coded objects and codejects, which divide into hard codejects, unitary closed codejects, unitary sensory codejects, logjects.
(54) Peripherally coded objects are objects in which software has been embedded, but such code is not essential to their use (that is, if the software fails, they still work as intended, but not as efficiently, cost-effectively, or productively). Codejects on the other hand are dependent upon code to function—the object and its code are thoroughly interdependent and inseparable (hence our conjoining of the terms code and object to denote this mutual interdependence). Codejects can be further subdivided into three main classes on the basis of the following characteristics: their programmability, interactivity, capacity for remembering, their ability for anticipatory action in the future based on previous use, and relational capacities. In summary these classes are hard codejects, unitary codejects, and logjects.
(55) Often, the presence of code is merely an adornment that serves the purpose of product marketing, to differentiate it from predecessors or acts as a token of added value.
(56) Hard codejects have a special kind of software, known as firmware, embedded into them that is essential for their functioning.
Unitary codejects programmable, exhibiting liveness, plasticity, accretion, interruption.
Unlike hard codejects, unitary codejects are programmable to some
degree and therefore exhibit some degree of interactivity; users are
able to control some aspects of the object's functionality,
instructing it as and when required. They, along with logjects,
feeling that there are infinite possibilities to explore;
person interacting with the codeject feels that they can push its
limits wihtout breaking the system; accretion—the
computational improves and evolves with use; and
is open to unpredictable input and can react to it without breakdown
(56) We term them unitary because they are self-contained, having everything they need to function within their material form. In broad terms, unitary codejects can be divided into those that function independent of their surroundings (closed codejects), and those that are equipped with some sensors that enable the object to react meaningfully to particular variables in their immediate environment (sensory codejects).
Bleecker blogject inspired logject rely on externalized functionality, record status and usage: permeable or networked depending on need to be always connected.
from unitary objects in that they also record their status and usage,
and, importantly, can retain these logs even when deactivated and
utilize them when reactivated. . . . Furthermore, part of their
functionality is externalized, lying beyond the immediate material
form of the object.
(57) Bleecker defines a blogject as an emerging class of software-enabled objects that generates a kind of blog of its own use and has the capability to automatically initiate exchanges of socially meaningful information.
(58) We broadly define a logject as an object with embedded software able to monitor and record, in some fashion, its own opeartion.
(58-59) Permeable Logjects Permeable logjects consist of relatively self-contained units such as an MP3 player, a PDA, and GPS, all of which have the potential to be connected to wider networks. . . . That said, appropriate capta (such as music, calendar entries, or map files) and software must be downloaded onto the machine at some point; hence they are permeable. . . . The aggregate social significance of such objects is impossible to estimate, but they are used to solve all manner of domestic problems billions of times a day, often without the active awareness or involvement of people.
(59) Networked Logjects Networked logjects do not function without continuous access to other technologies and networks. . . . Mobile networked logjects continuously search for connectivity and can respond automatically and autonomously to the network conditions.
Objects Become and Do Other Things
Capta shadows can be analyzed for emergent properties, for example of credit cards and cell phones.
(60) Objects thus gain capta shadows that can be analyzed for
emergent properties, with new knowledge of the life of an object used
to refine the system through which it is made, distributed, sold, and
potentially used. And importantly, such capta can be processed to
anticipate future activities.
(60) Let's explore the example of the archetypal machine-readable object: a credit card. . . . Importantly, it can legally, and through social convention, now hold a measure of trust that allow actions at a distance that are replacing embodied transactions (Lyon 2002).
(60-61) Now let us examine the example of a codeject: a cell phone. . . . It has become so ubiquitous and embedded into everyday life for so many people that it is easy to overlook the power of such a spatial reconfiguring in a very short span of time.
Little serious academic philosophical and practical appraisal of emergence of technological unconsciousness of machine-readable and coded objects for everyday life.
(61) Almost stealthlike, they have seeped into the fabric of social environments and workplaces forming what Thrift (2004b) has termed a “technological unconsciousness.” . . . And yet there has been very little serious academic appraisal of what the creation of the machine-readable and coded object means, both philosophically and practically, for everyday life. As such, we feel that coded objects demand further attention as key, future actants.
4 The Transduction of Space
Space active constitutive element of social relations rather than empty place in which they independently occur; code/spaces ontogenetic.
Social relations do not operate independently of space or simply at a
location, rather space is an active
element in the production of social relations, communal formations,
political organization, and personal regulation.
(66) Developing the latter [how does space become?], we argue that code/spaces are best understood as ontogenetic in nature, brought into being through the technicity of software to invoke processes of transduction.
A Genealogy of Space
Essentialist formulation of space supplanted by relational ontologies, with epistemological shift to production and management of space by people.
Deeply essentialist in formulation, space is effectively reduced to
the essence of locational geometry, its properties natural and
(67) Developing from the 1970s onward, as a more explicit counter to the scientific ontology of absolute space, were calls for relational ontologies (see Crang and Thrift 2000). The concept of relational space was first articulated overtly within radical approaches within human geography (for example, Marxist and feminist geographies) that developed in opposition to the dominant methods and ideology underpinning spatial science.
(67-68) Epistemologically, what this relational conception of space meant was a significant shift from seeking spatial laws to a focus on how space is produced and managed in contingent and relational ways by people to create certain sociospatial relations and not others.
New understandings of space based on ontogenetic ideas.
(68) In the last decade, a small cluster of scholars have begun to
challenge absolute and relational conceptions of space, seeking to
develop new understandings of space based on ontogenetic ideas.
(68) Spaces have multiple functions and through the daily flux of interactions, transactions, and mobilities are always in the process of being made differently.
Citational practices that are banal, hidden like writing practices of printed book and ephemeral spatiality of Trafalgar Square point to ontogenetic understanding of lived experience.
These practices are citational
(1990) terms in that they endlessly, but imperfectly, cite the
previous moment and thus give the appearance of coherence and
continuity. Taken as a whole, it is important to realize these sets
of practices are not planned or coordinated, nor necessarily
conscious; they simply proceed. Moreover, many practices are easily
forgotten or so ephemeral as to not be remembered, or are actively
precluded and hidden to give impression of complete, fixed, and final
existence. They are so banal that they are largely ignored, others
are culturally invisible, and increasingly others happen
automatically through the employment of technology. For example, this
printed book consciously denies the evidence of the writing practices
that brought it into being.
(70) A number of spatial theorists have recently started to construct ontogenetic understandings of lived experience that seek to think through how space emerges in process, notably de Certeau, Rose, Doel, Thrift, and their respective collaborators.
De Certeau, Rose and Thrift notable spatial theorists emphasizing performative and nonrepresentational aspects.
(70) In particular, de Certeau
(drawing on Foucault) was interested in how people live within,
negotiate, and subtly challenge circuits of power and the “proper”
order of space as reproduced by dominant elites, such as states and
corporations. . . . [quoting] “In short, space is a practiced
Thus the street geometrically defined by urban planning is
transformed into space by walkers.”
(71) For Rose, space itself, and thus its production, is brought into being through performativity—through the unfolding actions of people.
(71) Drawing on the ideas of Butler, Latour, and Deleuze, among others, Nigel Thrift has developed the notion of nonrepresentational theory. . . . In particular, Thrift is interested in how new sentient technologies automatically produce space; that is, they bring space into being without human interference.
Ontogenesis highlighting technicity and transduction argues space constantly brought into being as incomplete solution to ongoing relational problems, following Mackenzie and Simondon.
(71) We theorize this process using the concepts of technicity and transduction, drawing on the work of Mackenzie and Simondon to argue that space is constantly brought into being as an incomplete solution to an ongoing relational problem.
The Transduction of Code/Space
Software produces space by Mackenzie technicity realized through transduction, things reiteratively transitioning states; compare to use of concept by Sterne.
(72) The reason why software can modulate the perpetual production of space is because it possesses significant degrees of technicity. This technicity is realized through the process of transduction. . . . Transduction is a process of ontogenesis, the making anew of a domain in reiterative and transformative individuations—it is the process by which things transfer from one state to another.
Everyday life as series of incomplete solutions to relational problems by transductions, whose incremental steps are individuations.
(72) Mackenzie (2003, 10) explains that “through transduction, a
domain structures itself as a partial, always incomplete solution to
a relational problem.” From this perspective, everyday life is seen
as a stream of never-ending relational problems; for example, in
writing, how to spell the next word, finish the sentence, structure
the paragraph, and make a convincing argument. These problems are
provisionally solved by some action consisting of individuations
(looking in a dictionary, typing, editing, thinking, refining), thus
transferring the situation from one state to another, yet also
immediately creating a new problem to be solved (the next
(72) Individuations are the small incremental steps that constitute a transduction.
Software catalyzes transductions, sustains individuations, modulates sociospatial relations, yielding coded space and code/space and raising at least four philosophical issues: specter of determinism, collectivized unfolding, issue of scale, nature of structural power; is it worth pausing to consider the adequacy or arbitrariness of this set of issues?
(72-73) Software solves relational problems by acting as a catalyst for transductions to occur and sustaining individuations within a modulation. Code thus transduces everyday life, alternatively modulating sociospatial relations. From this perspective, space is transduced—brought into being—as a part of a provisional solution to an ongoing set of relational problems. Coded space and code/space occurs where the transduction of space is mediated by or it dependent on software. . . . Thinking about how the transduction of space proceeds, and in particular the nature of code/space, raises a number of related issues. Here, we focus on four of them: the specter of determinism, the collectivized unfolding of space, the issue of scale, and the nature of structural power.
The Specter of Determinism
Specter of determinism diminished because work of software fades into background in most spaces, retaining much negotiation by humans, who experience the work of software differentially, whose relationships vary contextually, evolving over time, open to subversion.
(74) First, the extent to which space
and code are mutually constituted and their effects explicitly
invasive—where code/space is visible and explicit in its
consequences—alters as one passes through coded assemblages. . . .
The space may well be dependent on code to function as intended, but
the work that software does fades into the background, allowing other
social relations to dominate.
(74) Second, even within the more overt and invasive code/spaces, spatiality is still a negotiated production.
(74) Third, it is clear from observation that code/space is experienced differentially—not everyone experiences the work of software in the same way (and not simply on the basis of privilege).
(75) Fourth, the relationship between code and people varies as a function of wider context.
(75) Fifth, it is important to note that assemblages of code/spaces have accreted over time with technological advances and political and economic decisions to employ digital technologies.
(75) Finally, code/spaces are open to subversion.
Code/Space as a Collaborative Manufacture
Polyvalent emergence of space by many actants simultaneously.
(76) What this means is spaces emerge in a polyvalent manner, brought into being simultaneously by many actants, who do not contribute to the manufacture in the same way or in equal degree.
Notion of scale eliminated by flat ontology as epistemological construct (see recent Bogost); all spaces emergent self-organizing systems of relations, extensible, multiple networks, mass of currents always in process of becoming rather than single line of force already constituted as structural entity (Whatmore and Thorne).
More recently, Marston,
have forwarded a proposition to eliminate the notion of scale, to be
replaced with a flat
that neither privileges the vertical or horizontal (which tend to
also create hierarchies of worth, such as cosmopolitan-parochial, or
core-periphery). They understand scale as being epistemologically
employed to put a shape on the world, but with no essential
ontological foundation. Here, there is no natural scale, only scaling
actions applied to the world to try to make sense of it, with this
scaling emergent, constructed specifically for an analytic
(77) Likewise, we suggest that code/spaces (and indeed all space) are diversely, multiply, and ceaselessly scaled—they emerge as self-organizing systems of relations stretched out across space and time, the product of processes and relations occurring in many locales.
(78) Code/space then is extensible. It does not consist of solely of localized individuations. Instead, the transduction of space occurs through ongoing individuations across networks (assemblages of relations) of greater or shorter length, so that scales such as local and global become redundant.
(78) Here, the network becomes “a mass of currents rather than a single line of force” (Whatmore and Thorne 1997, 291) and is a “performative ordering (always in the making) rather than a systematic or structural entity (always already constituted)” (p. 289).
(79) The means of production that underpin capitalist societies, and the ideologies that sustain and produce neoliberalism, are things that emerge in space-time through discursive and material practices, not things that are fully formed, preordained, and separate from the societies that they refer to and work upon.
Power unfolds in striated assemblages as complex systems with emergent properties through strategies and tactics between people with no central control.
(79-80) While institutional forces and ideologies cannot be fixed, they are not without power, but this power is diffuse, contingent, and afforded, rather than held and wielded (see Allen 2004). However, the power is real nonetheless; for example, when expressed as violence with police ordered to raid a house and arrest an individual. . . . Power thus unfolds through the enactment of strategies and tactics between people, rather than being wielded by one actor onto another. In the case of coded assemblages, several different institutions, each composed of many actors, seek to shape the transduction of space. These assemblages have no central control per se and possess a complexity much greater than the sum of the parts. In this sense, they are an assemblage that needs to be analyzed with respect to power, in Deleuze and Guatarri's (1987) terms, as striated—that is, complex, gridded, rule-intensive, regulated; and as complex systems with emergent properties.
(80) Through their work in the world, coded objects, infrastructures, processes, and assemblages bring forth new possibilities and augment, mediate, supplement, and regulate spatial formation. This transduction of space is contingent, relational, scaled, and context-dependent, emerging through the discursive and material practices of a collaborative manufacture that is diversely and ceaselessly scaled.
5 Automated Management
Quantification of society, for example Charles Booth poverty map of 1890s London; rational subjectivity produced through objectifying panoptic gaze.
(82) To make people calculable required
the quantification of society; the creation of universal and accurate
means of social measurement and human identification.
(82) As such, a key element in the new system of governance—the attempt to create an objectifying panoptic (“all -seeing”) gaze—produced a particular form of rational subjectivity designed to ensure good government through a more efficient and systematic legal and social field (McNay 1994).
Culture of control driven by desire for security, orderliness, risk management and taming of chance (Garland).
(84) In recent years, Garland (2001, cited in Lyon 2007, 12) argues that the present mode is one of a “culture of control,” driven by the desire for “security, orderliness, risk management and the taming of chance.”
Oligopticon rather than complete surveillance; nonetheless, software leading to automated management mode of governmentality.
(84-85) However, despite advances in
the surveillance tools and systems of organization, particularly in
the last few decades, the disciplinary grid created has remained open
to vertical (within an activity) and horizontal (across activities)
fragmentation (Hannah 1997). . . . Governance then has consisted of
an imperfect panopticon with blind spots and fissures that is best
described as an oligopticon—partial
vantage points from fixed positions with limited viewsheds; “a
series of partial orders, localized totalities, with their ability to
gaze in some directions and not others” (Latour cited in Amin and
Thrift 2002, 92).
(85) We argue that software is ideally suited to monitoring, managing, and processing capta about people, objects, and their interaction, and is leading to a new mode of governmentality that we term automated management.
The Emergence of Automated Management
Automated, automatic, autonomous characterize automated management regulation of people and objects where code is law, from traffic monitoring to gait and handwriting recognition; well explored in ficiton such as Gattaca and Distraction.
Put simply, automated management is the regulation of people and
objects through processes that are automated
technology performs the regulation without prompting or direction),
discipline, and outcomes are enacted without human oversight) in
nature. . . . Automated management thus works in a different way
compared to other modes of governmentality, creating a situation
wherein “code is law” (Lessig 1999).
(85-86) Traditional forms of surveillance, as detailed by Foucault and many others (Lyon 2007), are being transformed by the application of software to their functioning and processing. Consider the example of the monitoring of road traffic for driving offenses. . . . There are many other forms of surveillance, in use or under development, that seek to recognize unique aspects of bodily physiology and activity such as the structure of faces and voices, the manner of walking, idiogyncrases of typing, and writing a signature.
Active discipline by societies of control.
(86) Unlike traditional forms of surveillance that seek to self-discipline, new forms of surveillance seek to produce objectified individuals where the vast amount of capta harvested about them is used to classify, sort, and differentially treat them, and actively shapes their behavior (Agre 1994; Graham 2005; Lyon 2002). . . . Such a form of governance is described by Deleuze (1992) in his notion of “societies of control.” Here, expressions of power are not visible and threatening as with sovereign or disciplinary regimes, rather power is exerted subtly through distributed control and protocols that define and regulate access to resources and spaces, without those who are being governed necessarily being aware of such processes.
Agre capture model becoming integral part of system, reconfiguring and assessing in real time as examples of store checkout registers and ticket booking; note forerunner well documented in Hollerith era by Black.
Termed the “capture
that the mechanisms by which capta is generated are increasingly an
of the system that it seeks to monitor and regulate, and that these
mechanisms, in turn, redefine and reconfigure that system, quite
often in real time.
(86-87) For example, a computerized register in a store is configured in such a way that the practices of checkout labor are also the mechanisms by which the retail worker is monitored, disciplined, and rewarded. . . . The process of buying an individualized flight ticket, tied to a named person, has become the means by which an individual's credentials are automatically authenticated and risk assessed and commercial worth calculated—it is an integral part of booking the ticket.
Broad purpose of capture technologies clear in extreme cases such as Nazi punch card systems regulated goods.
(87) Whereas capta generated by traditional surveillance technologies are principally for the purpose of regulation (for reasons of safety, law enforcement, security, or revenue recovery), capture technologies generate capta for a much wider purpose and broader constituency.
Protocol as grammar of action representing formalized ontology and organized language for processing its representations, shaping behavior to be amenable to its requirements (Agre, Galloway, Wardrip-Fruin); example of extensive fields of Passenger Name Record.
(87-89) Agre (1994) argues that the capture model has been made possible because a grammar of action has been imposed on a system. A grammar of action is a highly formalized set of rules that ensures that a particular task is undertaken in a particular way, given certain criteria and inputs. It involves a systematic means of representing aspects of the world (a formalized ontology) and an organized language for processing those representations. . . . Capta is thus recorded in sequence and processed with respect to the governing protocols. . . . Behavior is therefore necessarily reshaped to make it more amenable to capture in order to fulfill the essential requirements that make a system work (Wardrip-Fruin 2003).
Inevitable flexibility in grammars of action make societies of control seductive to participants by interpellation; consider Malabou.
(90) As Agre (1994, 752) notes, while grammars of action necessarily structure activity, there is always some flexibility. . . . It is this contingency that makes a system, such as the Internet, appear to be very open and democratic. Nonetheless, they are highly regulated at one level, only allowing actions that protocols enable. . . . In this sense, “societies of control” are seductive to participants—in Althusser's (1971) terms, the systems they employ interpellate by enticing people to desire them and willingly and voluntarily participate in their ideology (rather than simply disciplining them into docile bodies).
The Capta Shadow
Capta shadow and capta trails transform more aspects of everyday life into legible landscape, noting explosion of both institutional and peer-to-peer surveillance, shared and traded as capital.
This assemblage constitutes what might be termed a capta
that uniquely represents and records people and their lives) and
of the locational positions of interactions and transactions) across
space-time. . . . The effect of the capta shadow is that more and
more aspects of everyday life are transformed into a legible
landscape—into “simple and visible forms of order” (Curry,
Philips, Regan 2004, 359).
(91) This capta shadow is available to institutions—states and the companies that generate it—but, unlike traditional forms of disciplinary surveillance, also to other individuals, institutions, and companies (sometimes freely, other times traded for a fee). As [Mark] Andrejevic (2007) notes . . . an explosion in peer-to-peer surveillance. . . . Never before has it been so quick and affordable to find out information about our peers, without their knowledge or permission. Interestingly, the act of searching and querying is itself captured, and gives quite a distinctive capta footprint.
(91) There have been several key developments, all underpinned by code, that have made such automatic capture possible.
Important transactions shifting from identification based on something you have or know, tokens and passwords, to something you are, biometrics.
(92) Present trends are to move from the first and second types
[something you have and know] to third type [something you are],
especially for higher order transactions such as accessing high-value
areas within a company building or entering a country, although
fingerprint scanners are now being increasingly embedded into more
mundane objects such as laptops to increase capta security.
(93) These biometric forms of identification see to fulfill Clarke's (1994b) list of desirable characteristics for effective human identification codes.
Material objects, information and transactions also being assigned unique identifiers.
(93) Similarly, as discussed in chapter 3, material objects are
increasingly assigned unique identifiers that allow them to be
processed, tracked, and traced through complex logistical
(93) Likewise, information and transactions are being assigned ever more unique identifiers for purposes of supporting intellectual property rights (digital object identifiers) or monitoring communication and interactions for the purposes of billing, dealing with queries by customers, and deriving knowledge from them.
(94) More and more frequently, the identification codes of people, objects, information, and transactions are being tied to spatial referents (grid references, latitude and longitude, postal codes, administrative districts, and geodemographic area types).
AI in Caprica based on permanent recording of capta shadows and trails.
(94) This proliferation of ID codes has led to a widening and deepening of capta shadows and trails. . . . Much will likely never be deleted, and records that would once have faded and been lost will be recallable well into the future.
Recording capta scripted, consistent, automatic through developments in sensing and scanning that record by default, excessive in nature, smart, continuous, mobile, and networked.
(94) They are, therefore, open to being recorded in scripted, consistent, and automatic ways. There have been a number of developments that have made the recording of such capta more effective and efficient.
(95) Advances in Sensing and Scanning Technologies.
Inexpensive micro-electromechanicals systems (MEMS), such as vehicle use monitors used by insurance companies.
(95) A wide range of batch fabricated, inexpensive, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) have been developed that can automatically monitor different kinds of information such as light, temperature, motion, and pressure, transduce them into digital capta, and communicate this capta to other devices.
Subjects of casual surveillance through default recording of capta like browser cookies that degrade functionality if disabled; people voluntarily provide huge amounts of capta through ordinary interactions.
(98) Default Recording of Capta . . . Turning off cookies (and their surveillance) seriously degrads the functionality of a large part of the Web and, in effect, they constitute a form of casual surveillance which largely goes unnoticed and unchallenged. In many ways, the compulsory nature of surveillance is rarely an issue—people voluntarily provide huge amounts of capta about themselves through their interactions with organizations and businesses.
Capta recording excessive in the sense that more data is collected by default than is really needed, usually out of convenience, marginal cost, and sloppy coding.
(98) Excessive in Nature Contemporary systems are often set to gather excessive amounts of capta—that which is actually necessary to undertake a transaction, along with additional capta deemed of potential interest or likely utility (sometimes this is revealed in the design of online forms that distinguish between compulsory and optional fields).
Smart means programmed awareness of use, not intelligence, for example cars.
(99) From “Dumb” to “Smart”
. . . In this context, smart means
programmed awareness of use, rather than intelligence. . . . The car
is prime example of an assemblage that is rapidly shifting from inert
machine to aware object.
(99) Continuous Monitoring.
Predicts pervasive spatial tracking of most people, driven by commercial development of location-based services.
(99-100) Mobile . . . It is probable that such continuous spatial tracking of a large proportion of the population will become commonplace in next few years, encouraged in large part by the commercial development of novel location-based services.
Networking shrinks space-time distanctiation of surveillance and control.
(100-101) Networked . . . What this means is that the space-time distanciation of surveillance and control has been markedly shrunk.
Worth contemplating fact that growth in storage density has outpaced Moores Law: permanent archiving of capta shadows feasible, although challenged by redundancy and changing formats; note a popular means of resistance to surveillance is providing false and duplicate capta.
growth in storage density, as measured in bits per inch on magnetic
disks, has even outpaced the curve of Moore's Law, and shows little
sign of slowing down int the near future. Storage capacity has been
further enhanced by compression algorithms that enable the rapid
encoding, decoding and streaming of capta.
(102) Digital capta takes up less space, but it is also more flexible, cheaper, and easier to copy, share, manipulate, cross-reference, process, and analyze.
(102) The capacity to store information for negligible overhead has made the permanent archiving of capta shadows feasible for many businesses and organizations. . . . It should be acknowledged, however, that there are real difficulties in maintaining digital storage over time in a usable form given the rapid changes and redundancy in capta and file formats.
Making Sense and Acting on Capta
New software sectors including data mining, knowledge discovery from databases, geodemographics, visual analytics.
surprisingly, such analysis has become commercially profitable,
leading to new software sectors such as data mining or knowledge
discovery from databases (KDD), geodemographics, and visual analytics
consultancies. . . . Capta, although inextricably tied to an
individual, is thus made to work in new ways independent of the
(103) With respect to surveillance and governance, a range of commercial capta aggregators/resellers such as US Search and ChoicePoint specialize in enabling consumers (individuals, companies, states) to pull together vast amounts of capta from related captabases to profile individuals.
Social sorting people to judge individual worth from capta analysis underpins discriminatory practices; capta shadow has begun to precede us by affecting range of future choices (Stalder).
(104-105) The aim of such an analysis is to socially sort people—by calculating and enforcing differential access—and to evaluate perceived worth and risk through activities such as customer, credit, and crime profiling. . . . Social sorting thus underpins discriminatory practices such as the redlining of communities deemed unprofitable or high risk by insurers and backs (Danna and Gandy 2002, Graham 2005). Stalder (2002, 120) notes that our capta shadow “does more than follow us. It has also begun to precede us.” . . . Code is used to judge people's worth, eligibility, levels of access, and ease of mobility—to reinforce social and economic inequalities with little democratic accountability, scrutiny, or right of redress (Graham 2005).
Software processing has affected most academic disciplines as well.
(105) Beyond governance, software processing has fundamentally reshaped just about all academic disciplines and how professions from architects to zoologists make sense of and use capta.
The Discursive Regime of Automated Management
Discourses of safety, security, efficiency, empowerment, economic rationality, competitive advantage support automated management, driven by neoliberalism and normalized through everyday media.
(106) The rollout
of automated management in different contexts is supported by vested
interest groups such as the state bureaucracies and corporations that
use discourses relating to issues such as safety, security,
efficiency, anti-fraud, empowerment, productivity, reliability,
flexibility, economic rationality, and competitive advantage, to
induce a process of interpellation, where in the large majority of
people willingly and voluntarily subscribe to and desire their logic,
trading potential disciplinary effects against benefits gained. . . .
These discourses are undoubtedly driven by the interests of
capitalism and increasingly the dynamics of neoliberalism, and they
are normalized through their everyday and mundane portrayal in
television, film, newspapers, novels, and other media.
(106) To be a legal and legitimate car drive in developed countries means enrolling in a raft of interlocking information systems of authoritarian and ongoing validation. Typically, drivers are fixed within a five-point control grid: a valid license, insurance coverage, registration of the vehicle, road taxation, and a vehicle roadworthiness test (the last two common in many countries). This interlocking information system covers the world in which the vehicle travels. Within the vehicle itself, there is more software that assists drivers.
(107) However, in arenas where nascent forms of automated management have become routine, such as in air travel or highway driving, to date there has been remarkably little mass organized resistance by either individuals or interest groups.
(108) First, people have been persuaded by the new emerging logic either through discipline or seduction.
(108) Second, people see the changes that are occurring as simply as extension of previous systems, which they are already inured to.
(108) That is, systems are seen as necessarily built in a certain way, with certain parameters and defaults, thus the grammars of action employed are hard-coded into the makeup of the system in a natural and neutral way . . . rather than the system and its architecture being seen as something that is relational and contingent in their formulation, design, and implementation.
(108) Fourth, the point of contact with automated management is typically designed to appear relatively painless and where possible empowering.
Add inability to protest to intensive surveillance instilling reflexive self-disciplining.
(108-109) Firth, and perhaps most troubling, it seems to us that many people do not openly question new forms of intensive surveillance and software sorting because they are worried of the consequences of protest. . . . Here, the nature of automated management works to instill a deep level of reflexive self-disciplining.
6 Software, Creativity, and Empowerment
Technicity of software pivotal in creative practices.
(111) For example, the technicity of software means it is increasingly a pivotal element in the creative practices of many professions and opens up creative opportunities for people to enact novel solutions to problems of entertainment and play.
Software as special kind of media because they afford creativity.
(112) Software, we argue, needs to be interpreted as a special kind of media. . . . Unlike spoken language and conventional writing, software is computational and executable, and can thus create products that themselves afford creativity.
Code and Creative Practice
Value statement for good creative code practices: elegant new routines, sophisticated algorithms, efficient and novel designs that go beyond repeating what has already been done.
(112) While much of the code produced today is derivative and borrowed from programs that have preceded it, and much of it is routine, mediocre, and uninspired, there is a steady stream of new code that continues to push boundaries with respect to software itself, and the work that it does in the world. This code consists of elegant new routines, sophisticated algorithms, efficient and novel designs for applications and protocols, or original ways of collating, analyzing, and presenting capta that are creative because they go beyond simply repeating.
Importance of embeddedness in networks for creativity of programmers; add liberal arts and humanities to skills and competencies.
(113) It is important to note, however, that the creativity of programmers, software engineers, and systems designers does not arise out of nowhere, some innate embodied talent. Instead, their creativity is a product of their skills and competencies coupled with their embeddedness in networks of people, things (technologies documentation, resources) and places.
Being proficient in creative software tools prerequisite to success in many professions.
(113) Code creates products that themselves afford creativity and some software applications have permeated creative practice so thoroughly (QuarkXPress in publishing, Photoship in graphic design, After Effects in animation, Maya and 3D Max in sold modeling, and Pro Tools in music mixing) that being proficient in their use has become an essential prerequisite to success in these professions.
Example of software use audit for creation of this book highlights cultural software: consider dimension of software tool-enabled versus self-reflexive creation of critical programming.
(113-115) Indeed, various computers and their operating systems supporting word processing, image editing, desktop publishing, e-mail and Web browsing, have fostered the creation of this book (table 6.1). . . . Software has afforded us a suite of tools that has profoundly influenced how the book came into being.
Difficult to assess impact of technological tools on creativity because the overall activity spread among practices; self-reflexive aspect absent in program use versus coding itself.
(115) The deeper
question though, is the degree to which the essential creative act is
altered by the medium that the author is working in. This is not easy
to address, because not all aspects of writing are dependent on code.
This is not easy to address, because not all aspects of writing are
dependent on code. For example, in writing this book, we often wrote
out ideas and passages in longhand, or made edits onto hardcopy, and
made use of a print dictionary and thesaurus in parallel with the
software versions offered in Microsoft Word.
(115) Drawing on our own wider experience, it is certainly the case that software has radically transformed knowledge-intensive industries such as academia.
Academics are software workers even though they do not write code: evidence of Manovich cultural software in sound recording and photography.
Capta generation and analysis on these scales was nigh on impossible
(117) Academics, therefore, are very much software workers, like many other occupations and professions, even though most do not write code, and probably could not do so even if they desired.
(117) The same is true for many workplaces, including the sites of much media production and creative industries, including artists' workshops, design studios, theaters, publishers, and photography, television, and film studios. Much creative practice at these sites now takes place in front of computer screens, manipulating digital objects.
(117) For example, in the music industry, the technicity of software has been widely enrolled to distribute creative practice both through time and across space, enabling the required consistency and repeatability at much lower costs (that is, professional quality sound recording).
(120) As such, much of the creative craft of photography is delegated to code, although the essential decision of what to photograph remains with the photographer.
(120) The market leader in image manipulation software over the last twenty years has been Adobe Photoshop, which has had a significant impact on visual culture with many millions of images seen daily having been retouched in various ways by its filtering algorithms and erasing tools.
(121) Buildings are being constructed that simply could not have been brought into being without software, as their complex and potentially unstable structural geometries can now be robustly calculated and rigorously tested in simulations before construction starts.
Widening access to creative activities alters spaces in which they may occur; democratization alters who may create and barriers to entry.
(121) The rise of affordable desktop software to create and manipulate music, large scientific data sets, graphic designs, photographic images, and architectural models has been particularly significant in terms of widening access to creative activities and opportunities. For many decades, these creative practices have been largely confined to specialized places, often tied to expensive bespoke equipment, and a skilled cadre of technicians and engineers. . . . There has been a marked decline in the barriers to entry into professional music recording; as Leyshon (2009, 1309) puts it, there has been a “democratization of technology.”
Creative results not guaranteed, reliance on software can even stifle creativity, invoking famous example of PowerPoint; risk of detrimental transfer of operative logic and algorithmic determinism to performance: compare to Heidegger leveling of language and Chun programmed visions.
Criticism that available functions in core analytical software determine research questions: compare to XML supporting OHCO thesis and types of scholarly projects undertaken in digital humanities.
(121-123) Of course, the enrollment of software in workflow does not guarantee creative results. . . . Moreover, in some respects, it can be argued that the reliance on software can actually stifle creativity. Software applications like Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop are flexible and open-ended tools, but they come loaded up with structures, templates, defaults settings, algorithmic normalities, and path-dependencies that often subtly but necessarily direct users to certain solutions. Some have argued that they ways in which the design of software structures human cognitive processes can have a detrimental effect on performance. . . . PowerPoint's operative logic is imbued with the “corporate sales pitch,” but too easily this ethos travels when it is applied in other contexts (for example, teaching; Adams 2006). . . . In terms of scholarship, critics have often argued that the available functions in core analytical software applications can all too easily determine research questions.
Many users never change the defaults when creating with cultural software: software as powerful force for homogeneity echoes Horkheimer and Adorno consumer consciousness.
(123) Many users never change the defaults; some are little aware of the degree to which what they create is shaped by these defaults. The result is that the products of certain software applications can often have a look that is identifiably shaped by the default settings. From this perspective, one might argue, software is a powerful force for homogeneity, rather than the diversity that marks creativity.
Per Manovich people interact with digitally encoded culture moreso than the computer per se; compare to Turkle noting attention to surface versus depth by computer users.
Manovich contends, such is the pervasiveness of software in the
contemporary production of cultural media that people interact less
with a computer per se, but rather culture encoded in digital form (a
jpeg picture, an mpeg movie file, a PDF document, and an MP3
(123-124) The effect of these five trends [numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, transcoding] is, he argues, the creation of media that are interactive, programmable, and mutable; media that provide distinct and novel ways for people to express emotion and ideas, to record their thoughts and experience, and to engage in new kinds of social activities, exchange, and communication.
Seldom do users reprogram the underlying software to affect production and consumption, although it is always held out as a democratizing option.
(125) Production and consumption become blurred, with users able to participate in the production of many media, but also to alter the nature of the media itself by reprogramming the underlying software.
Software and the Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 Transition
Web 2 distinct phase of online production that has rapidly become embedded in everyday life affording enhanced degrees of agency to users and creators, for example blogging new forms of participatory dialog, mashups adding value to harvested capta.
(125) Web 2.0, it
is argued, is a new, distinct phase of online production that opens
up authorship to allow much greater creative enterprise.
(126) Such has been the rapid rise of Web 2.0 applications that commentators note that they have already become an embedded and routine part of everyday life for many people, especially those under the age of thirty or so (Beer and Burrows 2007).
(126) Nevertheless, Web 2.0 applications do afford their users and creators with enhanced degrees of agency that empower them to participate in the construction of the Web and to solve their relational problems in novel ways. For example, blogging, a popular form of social media, has created new forms of participatory dialog.
(127) As Beer and Burrows (2007) note, building the site and making connections “is an act of production as it generates a path with its own history.”
(127) Mashups harvest the capta of services such as Google, Yahoo!, craigslist, Flickr, open government databases (such as the UK Land Registry) and plug them into other applications and services to create new, innovative ways of accessing, analyzing, and adding value to the capta.
Case Study: Mapping and Web 2.0
Case study of democratization of sophisticated mapping techniques and capta availability by OpenStreetMap: CC license, crowd-sourced production, wiki based core.
(128) The way in
which digital maps and online geographic imagery can be searched and
browsed almost effortlessly, and without the upfront cost of data
purchase and specialized software, is clearly opening up
sophisticated mapping techniques and capta that only a few years
previously had been the preserve of the military, government,
academia, and corporations, employing highly skilled staff.
(128) Open source mapping projects also challenge the restrictive copyright licenses applied to conventionally produced commercial and government mapping (even the free Google Maps service has strictly defined the terms and conditions for what users can do with it).
(129) At its heart, OpenStreetMap is fundamentally Web 2.0 because its licensing is open (a Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike license), it exploits a crowd-sourcing model of production (premised on mass participation, distributed voluntary effort, and loose coordination, it stands in contrast to traditional modes of centralized cartographic production undertaken by paid employees of institutions working to predetermined specificaitons), and its core architecture is wiki based.
OpenStreetMap tagging ontology example of generative folksonomy.
(130) The tagging ontology for geographic features in OpenStreetMap is a classic example of a generative folksonomy that emerges from both online debate and pragmatic usage.
Software for Political Organization and Engagement
Open culture not necessarily democratic in wiser sense idealized in open-source software development practices.
(131) In this
sense, online software fosters an open culture wherein anyone who is
so motivated can become involved in the development of the underlying
infrastructures by participating in open-source software initiatives,
and everyone has the potential to be seen and heard, and to
contribute to collaborative ventures such wikis and folksonomies as
the mechanics of authorship become qualitatively easier to
(131) The Internet as a social media is now a key battleground for political debate and organizing.
Use of satellite imagery for advocacy organizations is good example of wider democratizing by scrutinizing hidden activities and spaces autonomously from the state.
(132) Political power can also be enacted by software through greater scrutiny of otherwise hidden activities and secret spaces. . . . While much Internet-based protest is focused on the rapid and uncensored distribution of existing evidence, Aday and Livingston (2009) argue that in the case of satellite imagery there are real opportunities for advocacy organizations to generate new evidence that is, crucially, authoritative and autonomous from the state.
Crowd-sourced and amateur gaze now complemented by Wikileaks and other dissemination of official documents via insiders and contractors.
(132) The military and state security apparatus, in particular, are struggling to deflect scrutiny from only activism. . . . What begins to emerge is a bricolage of counter-mapping of secret state operations based on a collective, crowd-sourced, and amateur gaze.
Hacktivism at the ethical edge.
(132) Lying at the ethical edge of these campaigning and counter-mapping strategies is the quasi-illegal direct action that has been undertaken online to disrupt corporations by virtual sit-ins using software for distributed denial-of-service attacks and by defacing homepages by deliberately hacking into Web server software.
Dialectical nature of cell phone technology as both mobilizing activism and enhancing tracking.
(133) Cell phones are also key tools in coordinating and mobilizing activism and protest movements. . . . The fact that the cell phone is also a potentially potent means of tracking people by the state, illustrates well the dialectical nature of such technology.
Empowerment limited by operative protocols of Internet media, creating ethical dilemma between revealing transactionally useful information and keeping control over personal secrets.
Nothing about empowerment by working code beyond using cultural software and hacktivism; Bogost provides more examples of coding to promote political organization and debate.
(133-134) Empowerment then is facilitated by the Internet media, but its limits are defined by its fundamental operative protocols. . . . A genuine ethical dilemma therefore exists between the benefits felt from revealing information and the desire to keep control over details deemed personal.
Part III The Transduction of
7 Air Travel
Three As: automated, autonomous, automatic.
(137) Everyday people move around environments either through spaces that are increasingly monitored, augmented, and regulated by code or using modes of travel that are progressively more dependent on software to operate. . . . Air travel consists of a passage through code/spaces that are governed by automated management. . . . The decision as to whether people and luggage can progress from one code/space to the next is more than ever taken by systems that operate in an automated, autonomous, and automatic way.
Air travel has become real virtuality in Castells sense.
(137) The whole
apparatus of air travel from initial transaction to exiting the
airport at the final destination, is virtualized. As a result, the
material transfer of people and goods has become dependent
the virtual. In this sense, air travel has become, in Castell's
(1996) terms, a real virtuality par excellence,
blending the materiality and virtuality of travel.
(140) As we illustrate below, even within the more software intensive transition zones, code/space is still negotiated—code is not simply law when people fly.
Transduction of Air Travel Code/Spaces
Passenger ticket as material embodiment of code/space; departures are reliant on code, software transducing space into code/space.
(140) In many ways, a passenger ticket is the material embodiment of
code/space on which are printed several data codes, which while
meaningful to the software programs that facilitate travel, are
mostly meaningless to the passenger. With the move to e-tickets,
these codes are often hidden further, reduced to a single unique code
number that identifies the passenger at check-in.
(142) The reliance on ticketing codes in the PNR for check-in is the primary reason that a departure area is now a code/space. . . . If the software fails then the space fails to be transduced into a code/space as it should be.
Plane as code/space in coded space of atmosphere.
(143-144) Similarly, the plane itself is a code/space from the cockpit through to the in-flight entertainment system and digital maps displayed in the cabin. . . . The flight itself takes place through the coded space of the atmosphere which contains radio navigation beacons, GPS signals, and ATC systems that monitor all movements and direct planes on route to their destinations.
Compare massive assemblage of air travel to Sterne context of ensoniment.
(144) Taken to their logical conclusion, we can think about the code/spaces of air travel extending to the Internet and the GDS systems through which tickets are purchased (travel web sites, booking databases, credit card encryption) and global financial markets (the networked spaces of banks, stock markets, financial districts, insurance centers) that, as the volatility across the aviation industry post-9/11 have demonstrate, play a large role in defining airline, airport, and aircraft manufacturers' viability and in restructuring routes, service levels, and plane production. . . . The massive assemblage of air travel is then widely distributed and diversely scaled.
Why Code/Spaces are Always Incomplete
(146) Such an accreted assemblage is riven with nooks, crannies, and gaps in the system which make them necessarily incomplete in nature. This incompleteness is also revealed when the intended transduction of space fails, either through minor glitches or rarer, catastrophic incidents.
treating code/spaces like air trave as deterministic and universal:
necessarily social and cultural, accreted, incomplete
(146-147) Despite these potential disruptions to the air travel assemblage, the danger is to think about the store and forward movement through its code/spaces in a deterministic (that code determines how the space unfolds) and universal manner (the same processes occur in all airports in the same way). . . . It is necessarily a social and cultural practice, not a simple, deterministic exchange or an act of raw governmentality, and it proceeds in multifarious, subtly mutating ways.
Airport assemblage is metastability requiring continual tuning and replenishment.
(147) The ordering of flows in the store-forward nature of the airport assemblage in particular take continual tuning. . . . Airports require continuous routine maintenance, ad hoc repairs and planned renewal that is easily overlooked by passengers unless they are distinctly impacted (Graham and Thrift 2007). They exhibit metastability at different scales--”they are stable [only] in their constant instability” (Fuller and Harley 2004, 153).
Workarounds, errors and malice prevent totalizing, deterministic closure.
(147) Given this collective and incomplete nature, there is always scope for workarounds, as airport staff in different roles adapt their interactions with software systems to cope with the pressures of on-the-ground situations. . . . There is also the ever present potential for errors, particularly in capta entry and translation within and between these software systems. . . . There are also opportunities for malicious damage to the vital software systems of air travel from insiders, and also external attacks.
Negotiated spaces not completely determined by code: compare to business operations putatively controlled by ISO standards whose published rules are regularly broken to get things done.
(148) Similarly, security checkpoints and immigration are negotiated zones of transition. Code is used to screen and identify passengers in the security area, but often with a human operator who is usually part of a team. The level of attention one receives is often gendered, aged, and raced (women, children, and Caucasians are generally perceived as less of a potential risk in the West), and agents have the authority to decide which items are confiscated and who receives extra screening (Parks 2007).
Automated Management of the Air Travel Assemblage
Automated management of air travel make passengers and workers docile bodies.
(149) Such systems were originally used to make the business of air travel more efficient, competitive, and profitable. More recently, they have been used as a means to manage and regulate passengers and workers, especially in relation to security. . . . The aim is to render passengers and staff, in Foucault's (1978) terms, “docile bodies”; bodies that occupy the assemblage in an orderly, noncomplaining, compliant manner through visible systems of discipline (unique identification check-in and immigration, surveillance cameras, security checkpoints, warning signs, and architectural design), accompanied by a sliding scale of sanctions (delayed flight, termination of a journey, police questioning, arrest, criminal charges, threat of fines, and imprisonment).
Automated management examples of US-VISIT system, APIS, and Secure Flight program demonstrate long retention periods, extensibility to future forms of surveillance of mobility, and secret rules.
(150) Here, the aim is to upgrade the effectiveness of systems by
introducing new grammars of action that deepen capta input and
improve analysis, identify and deny potential security risks before a
crime is committed, anticipate threats and predict future passenger
behavior. . . . Here we outline in brief the three U.S. systems (as
they operated or were planned in 2005; note these systems are subject
to rapid change).
(151) US-VISIT has a one-hundred-year capta retention period and the capta are shared with “other enforcement agencies.”
(151) The final statement, “and carry out other Federal missions,” effectively means the capta can be used for whatever the U.S. government thinks is appropriate now and in the future; this clearly opens the door to wider surveillance of mobility.
(152) Importantly, the rules of grammar that lie at the root of these determinations are purposefully secret, being classified as “Sensitive Security Information” and, as such, are not open to scrutiny (in terms of independent verification of their effectiveness) or informed challenge (in terms of equity issues, such as potential racial profiling).
questioned design and deployment of automated systems for errors, due
process, cost and impact.
(152) In 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union published a list of seven reasons to question the design and deployment of such automated passenger screening and profiling systems. These reasons focused on errors, due process, cost, and impact.
(153) Taken together, US-VISIT, APIS, and Secure Flight aim to create a capta shadow of travel for individuals that lasts a lifetime.
The Discursive Regime of Travel Code/Spaces
Commonsense discourses for code/spaces: security, safety, anti-fraud, citizenship, economic rationality, convenience, and free skies.
(153) The code/spaces of air travel, and the regulatory capacity of automated management, are supported by a least seven interlocking discourses. These are security, safety, anti-fraud, citizenship, economic rationality, convenience, and free skies.
Foucault technology of self empowers code/space, enacting Althusser interpellation; compare to other automated systems such as Internet proxies and time management systems.
Automated management allows the surveillance of passengers and
workers to become more panoptic in scope, both widening and deepening
the extent to which the complex and dynamic flows of air travel can
be policed, thus making air travel a more secure and safe
undertaking. Part of the power of code/space is what Foucault (1988)
calls a “technology
of the self”:
a sociospatial configuration where the presence of a technology
persuades people to self-discipline their behavior; to act in ways
prescribed by those controlling the space and technology.
(155) In Althusser's (1971) term, code/space thus interpellates people to its ideas by enticing them to subscribe to and desire its logic and to willingly and voluntarily participate in its ideology and practice (rather than simply disciplining them into docile bodies).
(155) While undoubtedly the aviation industry and its attendant code/spaces have detractors, it is fair to say that, at present, intensive software solutions are the hegemonic production of space associated with air travel.
Obligatory ethnographic study along with software studies for code/spaces of air travel; applicable to other domains such as process control automation and virtual worlds in MMORPGs?
(157) Despite these efforts to further deepen deterministic forms of automated management, the code/spaces of air travel will continue to be contingent and relational in nature, the products of complex and diverse interactions between people and code. As such, we believe these interactions warrant further attention and study, requiring detailed ethnographies of aviation across peoples (passengers by class, race, gender, age, disablement, and different kinds of workers), types of airports (local, national, and international hubs) and in a range of nations (with differing political economies, state policies, legislation, and business practices).
Home work; home as metamachine, social and material relations being reconfigured by coded objects.
(159) A great deal of emotional, physical, and financial effort is
expended in the maintenance of the physical dwelling, along with the
nurturing of home life. A significant part of this work in creating a
proper home involves the continual ordering of time, spaces, and
resources into configurations to solve ongoing problems of living. As
part of ordering the routines of homemaking, a plethora of
technologies are used. . . . Homes then are metamachines of literally
thousands of different technological components.
(159-160) These capacities are helping to reshape home life and its complex spatialities by on the one hand, augmenting and supplementing domestic tasks, and on the other hand plugging the home into new, extended, distributed networks. In other words, coded objects are reconfiguring the social and material relations of home, often in banal and subtle ways.
The Prevalence of Coded Objects
Audits of coded objects as investigative method, though idealized here, reviewing living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, cars.
(160) We do this by providing audits of three typical (Western) homes. These audits are hypothetical, but are based on our broad observation of different homes, particularly in an Anglo-American context.
Car includes driver assistance systems, pointing towards autonomous conveyance of WALL-E.
(168) It also includes a raft of driver assistance systems that shadow their actions and help reduce the cognitive and kinesthetic load of driving.
Aged person health aids forerunner of wearable computing, pointing towards unabashed cyborg.
(168) Such an everyday embodied mixture of code can be seen as a forerunner of wearable computing for routine health monitoring and well being assistance, and the future potential fusing of software and biological functioning to create cyborgian recombinations.
The Networking of Homes
Homes already nodes in multiple networks.
(169-171) Every home is a node in multiple consumer and government networks relating to utilities, entertainment, communications, finance, taxation, health, and security, some of which work in real time, others asynchronously, all using electronic captabases structured and worked upon by software algorithms. . . . The use of these infrastructures binds them into overlapping grids of calculation through instruments of measurement, surveillance, and classification.
Two-way tradeoffs of increased consumption and empowerment accompanied by surveillance and regulation by television, Internet and cellular communications.
(172) Code renders the television a
two-way mirror that watches the viewers as the viewers watch it. . .
. Yet, at the same time, the ability to know the viewer is
counterbalanced by the increasing fragmentation of media consumption,
with some people promiscuously utilizing multiple platforms and
sources (often unofficial, free, and copyright infringing
(172-173) Similarly, communication and capta transfer using the Internet and cell phones empowers individual households at the same time as it monitors and regulates their actions. . . . Consumers have traded their privacy for a service, and they are bearing the cost and labor of detailed capta generation in the name of their own empowerment (Andrejevic 2007—see chapter 9).
Software Practices and the Spatialities of Home
New affordances to undertake domestic living differently by time shifting, multitasking.
(174) Coded objects alter the
material, social, and spatial relations of the home in new ways; they
offer members of households new affordances to undertake domestic
(174) People take advantage of interactive software interfaces to time-shift and multitask.
Transduction of home space providing additional partition solutions to relational problems.
(174) Coded objects make a
difference to the transduction of home space; how the spatiality of
the home is beckoned into being as coded space or code/space. Their
supplementary capacities provide additional, partial solutions to the
relational problems of domestic living (cleaning, cooking,
entertaining, socializing, personal care) and enable other problems
to be addressed from the home (managing household finances,
work-related tasks, schooling, health monitoring).
(175) The apartment is spatially reconfigured to facilitate such a transduction, with a bedroom converted into space where office practices can proceed efficiently. . . . Simon's digital keyboard transduces the space of his office into a music studio where he is able to compose, record, manipulate, and play back multilayered and instrumented songs. . . . Dorothy's Lifeline control terminal transduces her home into a site of continuous yet unobtrusive healthcare monitoring, which enables her to live at home, rather than having to move to an assisted living facility.
Stretching home across space in networks makes domestic activities and personal behavior more visible to corporations; compare to ability of computer to directly collect user data noted by Weinberg.
(175) Homes are increasingly being stretched out across space in networks of greater length and, as such, scaled in new ways. . . . Such expanding, and increasingly nonstop flows of capta, potentially render unseen domestic and personal behaviors visible to corporations, with little knowledge or control by those being observed.
Home becomes new site for automated management.
(176) The home, previously seen as a sanctuary from an overdetermined and regulated world, becomes open to forms of automated management.
The “Home of the Future”
Smart home continuation of modernist fantasy of control.
(176) While it is possible to argue that we are on the path to such an all-embracing domestic digital assemblage, it must also be recognized that smart homes are a particular sociotechnical vision developed by technologists; the latest reincarnation of a longstanding modernist fantasy of technology capable of producing orderly domestic spaces and maximizing leisure time.
Code opens novel solutions to domestic tasks, pleasure and play.
(177) Yet control is not the whole story. Code opens up genuinely novel avenues for creative solutions to domestic tasks, particularly in terms of pleasure and play.
New complexity and risks, need for digital housekeeping, foreshadowed by real cognitive work maintaining PCs and mobile devices.
(178) In addition to the specter of control and empowerment of creativity, the enrollment of code on a wide scale in the home brings with it a whole new layer of complexity and risks to daily living, despite the rhetoric of software making life easier. A foretaste of this complexity is the real cognitive work required in maintaining home PCs and mobile devices in proper order.
Home are bricolage of ordinary objects and coded components that may lead to overcoding leading to disruptions; compare to initial domestication of electricity.
(178) Homes then are made of an
imperfect but functional bricolage of ordinary objects and coded
components. Rather than making the domestic realm more orderly, the
infusion of software into homes is perhaps leading to a new
overcoding of routines and activities that often makes home life more
complex and prone to unexpected and inexplicable failure and
(179) While this is an incremental and not an epochal change, a useful parallel can be drawn between the contemporary coding of homes and the initial domestication of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century.
Social, familial, and wider political, legal, and cultural contexts result in different spatialities of even materially identical homes.
(178) In other words, the everyday use of coded objects reshapes the spatiality of the home by altering how domestic tasks are undertaken (and not always more conveniently for all), introducing new practices and sometimes greater complexity, and embedding the home into more diverse, extended systems of consumption and governmentality. How coded objects beckon space into being is not deterministic, rather it is contingent and relational. The spatiality of different homes, even if they were materially identical, would vary substantially because the technologies would be used in different ways, within varying contexts. These contexts are social and familial, but are also structured within the wider political economy (market-led pricing, fragmentation of consumer service contracts), legal arrangements and standards (health and safety), evolving cultural practices (when and where it is acceptable to use certain coded objects), and differential access to certain services.
Next step in consumer society is practice of consumption as leisure activity, affecting land and infrastructure development.
(181) The latter part of the twentieth century witnessed the development in the West of a consumer society wherein the vast majority of people purchased goods and services not only out of necessity, but through choice. . . . In tandem, the practice of consumption, particularly shopping, became a major leisure activity for many, and retail and leisure spaces became the focus of development capital with large tracts of land and infrastructure devoted to them.
Kitchin, Rob and Dodge, Martin. Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. Print.