“Why should humanists, social scientists, media scholars, and cultural critics care about software? Because outside of certain cultural areas such as crafts and fine art, software has replaced a diverse array of physical, mechanical, and electronic technologies used before the twenty-first century to create, store, distribute and access cultural artifacts” (Manovich, 2013).
Computing, while initially designed for specialized fields like the military, government, and scientific research communities, was redesigned for non-technical and non-specialist users. Computer scientists like Alan Kay, Tim Mott, and Doug Engelbart drew upon other fields, like cognitive psychology, humanities, and business, which influenced their designs to be more user-friendly, intuitive to learning, and easier to use. The more people who have access to using computers, the more creative and productive society will be as a whole.
“Software has become our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination—a universal language through which the world speaks, and a universal engine on which the world runs” (Manovich, 2013). An example of a an older supporting system technology that has been adapted into new design is the use of point and click to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) head pointers.
Doug Engelbart invited the mouse and the point-and-click system (Moggridge, 2007).
TTY is like a desktop. “The idea of a desktop came to [Thomas Mott] as part of an ‘office schematic’ that would allow people to manipulate entire documents, grabbing them with a mouse and moving them around a representation of an office on the screen” (Moggridge, 2007).
Other notes from readings (will update post later):
Media software, what I use every day, shared traits, modularity principle: software to application software to media software, “software enables global information society” like knowledge workers, symbol analysts, creative industries, and service industries,
“hypertext” to mean a body of
written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex
way that it could not be conveniently presented or represented
on paper.21 Theodore H. Nelson described hypertext as more than links and text; instead, hypertext is a symbol within a greater work, referencing anything, not just a link, not just another picture. It can be anything (Manovich, 2013).
Industry supported them more than academia. Nelson said, “a new, readable medium” (Manovich, 2013). Users can choose between “many different views of the same information”.
“We can add new properties or even invent new types of media by simply changing existing or writing new software. Or by adding plug-ins and extensions, as programmers have been doing it with Photoshop and Firefox, respectively. Or by putting existing software together” (Manovich, 2013).
According to Kay, the key step for him and his group was to start thinking about computers as a medium for learning, experimentation, and artistic expression which can be used not just by adults but also by “children of all ages. Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner added on to Piaget’s theory of logic. “Mentalities do not replace each other but are added.”
David Canfield Smith referenced Pygmalion in the title of his thesis about a creative programming environment. The book by George Bernard Shaw
Larry Tesler’s license plate said “NO MODES” because he wanted to design user-friendly software, understanding that modes make things more complex.