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Computing as Writing$
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Daniel Punday

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816696994

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816696994.001.0001

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Programmer as Writer

Programmer as Writer

(p.48) Three Programmer as Writer
Computing as Writing

Daniel Punday

University of Minnesota Press

Chapter 3 turns from this corporate model for writing to those that embrace a more literary understanding. I begin by looking at two films that represent programming—the 1957 romantic comedy Desk Set and the 2010 film The Social Network. Where films in the past treated computers as monoliths dropped into social spaces, this later film represents programming as a form of writing. Today the lines between programming and writing are blurry, since most writing for the Web depends on markup language that contains coding. Some have argued that we would be better to treat the act of writing code as a literary activity. All in all, the professions of writing and programming have evolved to form an essential part of what has been called the “creative economy” by Richard Florida. These ideas about writing and computing are articulated in Neal Stephenson’s open-source manifesto In the Beginning … Was the Command Line. Stephenson contrasts the graphical user interface (GUI) to the textual command line. Stephenson reveals the common belief that the writing embodied in the command line or in coding represents a more fundamental layer of the computer.

Keywords:   Desk Set, The Social Network, Programming, Writing, Coding, Markup language, Command line, Graphical User Interface, Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning Was the Command Line

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