The Third Mode of Action: Computer Languages, Computer Networks and Human Action

21 Mar 2012
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Asaf Darash
OHST Visiting Scholar

The study wishes to look into the conceptual transformation computer languages and computer networks have gone through from the early years of computing to the creation of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and the TCP/IP protocol, respectively. The study wishes to show these transformations are part of the solutions created in order to deal with the virtual problem of the computer namely the private language problem. Through this inquiry, the study hopes to surface and explain the mode of action brought forth by computer applications and computer networks and shed light on the conceptual transformation society is undergoing through the type of action these facilitate.

The mode of action computer languages and computer networks bring forth is not similar or a replication of natural language and human networks, respectively. To claim this would be to overlook some unique factors in their functionality. The ability of computer languages to create a community of action which advances the development of specific applications while under a non-standardized meaning but only given a technical agreement on the structure and form of syntax and semantics in order to standardize the linking mechanism is something impossible to grasp within a human language. It is a form of language built on endless private languages and logics that interact. This together with the high level of abstraction possible in computers creates a mode of action which is different. The ability of computer networks to disregard meaning altogether when creating connections and actions within the network cannot be duplicated in other networking types. Hence, the claim this work wishes to advance is that computer languages and computer networks are part of and the creators of (both at the same time) a new mode of action because they function in a different manner. In order to articulate the change this mode brings forth two prior modes, that can be found in historical computer development, are examined and explained.

To summarize, the study wishes to test whether the computer is part of the formation of a new mode of action. One possible due to many forces, among them the unique technological structure of the computer which is actualized by the community of users, developers, and critics thus creating an open circuit between the computer, the mode of action and the social practice of action. This question will be examined by researching the conceptual changes technical advancements in computer languages and networking protocols brought forth with the hope that understanding these will assist in understanding the changes in social action computers facilitate and the connection between its way of functioning and the human action in computerized societies.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

Our Events

Other Events of Interest