Analysis Of Lev 's ' The System Of Software And An Account Of The Effect On All Of Us

Analysis Of Lev 's ' The System Of Software And An Account Of The Effect On All Of Us

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William Miller
SVA MFA
Bob Bowen
Spring 2016

Lev Manovich’s Software Takes Command is the genealogy of software and an account of the effect that it’s had on all of us. This includes what he calls the “softwarization” of media which started with taking existing media and replicating its function using software to “create, store, distribute and access cultural artifacts.” Over the last 30 years our old media technologies such as record/cassette/CD players, film cameras, VHS, DVD, floppy disks have all been replaced by media software and despite this radical shift in our concept of media, we know next to nothing about how we got here. He is also interested in establishing and conveying a vocabulary in which to think about and categorize software.

In STC Manovich mostly talks about the software that developed to in response to photography, video and design. He introduces us to some of the earliest imaging technologies like Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad (1963), Xerox PARC 's Alto (1973), the first GUI based personal computer and Alan Kay 's "Dynabook" which was fully realized in an article with his collaborator Adele Goldberg in 1977.

“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. What electricity and the combustion engine were to the early twentieth century, software is to the early twenty-first century.” (Manovich 2)

STC is useful and enlightening as an historical account of media software but it lacks the social and political critique which would have given it a lot more depth. For instance. it’s hard to believe that there is no mention of Walter Benjamin in this book. There are some ...


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...ery little of the “why” and absolutely no “why not.”

Autor, David H. and David Dorn. “How Technology Wrecks The Middle Class.” The New York Times 24 Aug. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

Benjamin, Walter “The Work of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction.” 1936. Modern Art and Modernism: A Critical Anthology. Ed. Francis Frascina and Charles Harrison. Westview Press. 1982.

Heath, Nick “Why AI could destroy more jobs than it creates, and how to save them.” TechRepublic 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Manovich, Lev. Software Takes Command. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

“New Study Shows Nearly Half Of US Jobs At Risk Of Computerisation.” University of Oxford. 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Tankersley, Jim. “Robots are hurting middle class workers, and education won’t solve the problem, Larry Summers says.” The Washington Post 3 Mar. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

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