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Participants: Ben Allen * Stephanie August * Damon Loren Baker * Theo Ellin Ballew * Ivette Bayo Urban * John Bell * Paisley Benaza * Kathi Berens * David Berry * Sayan Bhattacharyya * Christina Boyles * Gregory Bringman * André Brock * Ron Burkey * Evan Buswell * Sarah Ciston * Eileen Clancy * Tara Conley * Krystal Cooper * Ranjodh Dhaliwal * Anthony Di Franco * Craig Dietrich * Jeremy Douglass * Kevin Driscoll * William Dyson * Brandee Easter * Martin Erwig * Schuyler Esprit * Max Feinstein * Todd Furmanski * Geoffrey Gimse * Erin Glass * Rochelle Gold * Catherine Griffiths * Ben Grosser * Fox Harrell * Sydette Harry * Brendan Howell * Nazua Idris * Jessica Johnson * Waliya Yohanna Joseph * Ted Kafala * Dorothy Kim * Corinna Kirsch * Steve Klabnik * Shelly Knotts * Peter Kudenov * Fidelia Lam * Liz Losh * Thor Magnusson * Jim Malazita * Judy Malloy * Zach Mann * Mark Marino * Lauren McCarthy * Irma McClaurin * Patrick McDonnell * Tara McPherson * Todd Milstein * Nick Montfort * Mark Neal * Safiya Noble * Keith O'Hara * David Ogborn * Allison Parrish * Ali Pearl * Gerol Petruzella * Andrew Pilsch * Samuel Pizelo * Jessica Pressman * Helen Pritchard * Daniel Punday * Kristopher Purzycki * Harvey Quamen * Amit Ray * Margaret Rhee * Lisa Rhody * Scott Richmond * Teddy Roland * Jamal Russell * Anastasia Salter * Mark Sample * Evan Schauer * Ari Schlesinger * Mehdy Sedaghat Payam * Ash Smith * Winnie Soon * Glen Southergill * Mel Stanfill * Samara Hayley Steele * Nikki Stevens * Tonia Sutherland * Miriam Sweeney * Ezra Teboul * Daniel Temkin * Dennis Tenen * Marilyn M. Thomas-Houston * Elizabeth Timbs * Giuseppe Torre * Rebecca Uliasz * Annette Vee * Sneha Veeragoudar * Ashleigh Wade * Kurt James Werner * Jacque Wernimont * Zach Whalen * Roger Whitson * Roger Whitson * Michael Widner * Jody Zellen * Kai Zhang
Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), Catherine Griffiths (USC), Ali Rachel Pearl (USC), and Teddy Roland (UCSB). Sponsored by the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab (USC), and the Digital Arts and Humanities Commons (UCSB).

Quora and Other Groups doing CCS in the Wild

In the first CCSWG, @jeremydouglass invited us to find examples of Critical Code Studies that we found "in the wild," beyond this working group and beyond academia itself. I'd like to extend that conversation by looking at places where code studies are being done as the subject or perhaps even a side effect of the general conversation topic. We have already referenced discussion threads on Reddit, for example, in our thread on the Apollo 11 code. @belljo's recent post about cutting and pasting code reminds me of Stack Exchange. And there are also robust communities of code studies, such as Lambda the Ultimate. I have also been a subscriber to Quora, where people often post questions about the nature of programming languages, including their social nature, although often with an eye toward learning what's most popular or that positions one best for getting a job.

It has long been our contention, that we are not the only ones doing Critical Code Studies, that CCS builds on the practices and conversations well underway in the world of programming and computer science. I wonder if there are other communities in the wild where there are regularly posted or even irregularly posted discussions that we can benefit from for our Critical Code Studies.

What are other online forums or communities, where we can turn for insight into readings of code? Have you used any of these (in this way)?


  • This might be a bit tangential, but it also might get into some of the other discussions about forms of critical interpretation that aren't encoded as text.

    For several years now, I've been fascinated by the speedrunning community. These are people who play video games with the goal of getting to the end as fast as they possibly can. However, they play the games as they actually exist in hardware and software rather than the way the developers intended they be played. If there's a bug in your game that helps them get to the end faster then it's just as valid a strategy as anything described in the manual.

    Because they're essentially deconstructing game code and hardware in real time, speedrunners often know games better than the people who wrote them in the first place. They've also been instrumental in taking romhacks from a relatively small audience to mass streaming appeal on Twitch by popularizing things like randomizers (e.g., play a game where all the powerup locations are swapped around) and kaizo games. At the extreme end of things, some people use game controllers to run arbitrary code execution attacks on games and reprogram them on the fly.

    Obviously their audience and concerns are different, but their methods and results often mirror the kind of work that CCS takes on. Instead of writing code or an essay, though, they've made deconstruction of code a spectator sport on twitch.

    (If anyone is curious and in the area, I'll be talking about speedrunners at CAA2018 in a couple of weeks too. Drop in and chat!)

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