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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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Invention, Patents, and the Technological System

Invention, Patents, and the Technological System

(p.98) Five Invention, Patents, and the Technological System
Computing as Writing

Daniel Punday

University of Minnesota Press

Chapter 5 turns to contemporary disputes over software patents as another point of connection between writing and computing. This chapter begins by investigating the degree to which software can be seen as a tool. In Being and Time, Heidegger offers a well-known account of tools as “ready to hand,” but Punday is particularly interested in the way that he uses the term “equipment” in this book, since equipment for him represents a set of interrelated technologies such as the pen, paper, and desk for writing. Equipment is a powerful concept today because it captures the way that technological systems interrelate. Punday argues that these systems pose challenges to our traditional ideas of creativity. He turns to recent U.S. Supreme Court cases—especially the 2010 Bilski v. Kappos —to see how computing technologies have challenged our ways of evaluating inventions. Today new technologies are increasingly integrated into these systems, and as a result older models defining what can be patented are in flux. Writing’s ability to represent the abstract possibilities of invention has frequently been criticized as the basis for “speculative patents” disconnected from concrete objects, but this is another instance where writing embodies the tensions of contemporary culture.

Keywords:   Software patents, Being and Time, Heidegger, Equipment, Interrelated technologies, Creativity, Bilski v Kappos, Speculative patents, Invention

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