Commit f702d09f authored by Colm O'Neill's avatar Colm O'Neill
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residual changes

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......@@ -13,19 +13,19 @@ Today's work environment has changed. It is vastly different to the places in wh
In ‘The Craftsman’, Richard Sennett (Professor of Sociology and the Humanities, author of [non-excl] ‘Together’, ‘The Conscience of the Eye’ and ‘Practicing Culture’) defines craftsmanship as: « an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake ». As comforting as it is for me to think of craftsmanship as a basic human impulse, still in the prologue, he states his two main theses: firstly « all skills, even the most abstract, begin as bodily practices; » secondly « technical understanding develops through the powers of imagination ». Aside from these, Sennett's major argument is for the need for a social order for the development of craft. He states that an ancient ideal of craftsmanship is “joined skill in community”. Medieval workshops, in particular, provided a communal atmosphere and social structure that guided the development of skill through “authority in the flesh” as opposed to knowledge “set down on paper”. There is an implicit authority in the workshop, a social order that values the “quality of skill” over “occupation of a place of honor”. The workshop binds people together as it forms a community of masters and apprentices. Quality and ethical codes of work are transmitted through such communities (and the guilds they are part of) ensuring continuity while also allowing for creative developments through partnerships and communal participation. The medieval workshop (at least, the western understanding of) began its demise with the Renaissance separation of art and craft. This separation emphasised the individual and her/his creation of “art” over communal development. The workshop became an inferior social space reserved for a lower class of society.(Sweeden, 2009)
At the turn of the 19th century, burgeoning industrial capitalism was built on a foundation of a combination of techniques and new scientific technologies. This combination enabled extremely high levels of production, by, not only, but importantly, enhancing productivity (Stiegler, 2012), something we will come back to in chapter 2. History shows how in this change, peasants become proletarian, and brought class separation into the working sphere. In the 20th century something new happens; consumerist capitalism. Industrial capitalism is followed by consumerist capitalism in the 20th century. The notion of consumerism, is likened to Fordism at first, not to be confused with productivity capitalism which supposes the proletarisation of the producers<!--—the workers, that then become proletarian, who then would lose all of their professional know how-->. In the consumer capitalism model it's not only the workers who lose their know how, the effects and the loss extends to the consumers, who don't lose knowledge, but certainly lose their savoir vivre. This historical context does not yet speak about software directly, but I believe that reviewing this trajectory is important in order to speak later about what the possibilities of craft within software are.
At the turn of the 19th century, burgeoning industrial capitalism was built on a foundation of a combination of techniques and new scientific technologies. This combination enabled extremely high levels of production, by, not only, but importantly, enhancing productivity (Stiegler, 2012), something we will come back to in chapter 2. History shows how in this change, peasants become proletarian, and brought class separation into the working sphere. In the 20th century something new happens; consumerist capitalism. Industrial capitalism is followed by consumerist capitalism in the 20th century. The notion of consumerism, is likened to Fordism at first, not to be confused with productivity capitalism which supposes the proletarisation of the producers<!--—the workers, that then become proletarian, who then would lose all of their professional know how-->. In the consumer capitalism model it's not only the workers who lose their know how, the effects and the loss extends to the consumers, who don't lose knowledge, but certainly lose their savoir vivre. This historical context does not yet speak about software directly, but I believe that reviewing this trajectory is important in order to speak later about what the possibilities of craft within software are.
Malcolm McCullough (Professor of Architecture, author of [non-excl] ‘Digital Design Media’ and ‘Digital Ground’) has a more involved perspective on the transformation of craft. He does not insist on social order, in fact, without contradicting Sennett, he speaks about the individual, the personal scale and the skills. In craft, manual and conceptual skills are combined in a direct handling of real objects, depending on a certain coordination of hands, eyes and the mind. But industrialism started the split between hand and mind, and made for indirect actions. We left handling and manipulations inside of other systems. Automation as a consequence of industrialism, but also as an idea itself, could be pointed to as a serious factor for the disappearance of traditional artisanship: it works on the very basis of the redundancy of people and therefor of traditional tools. It displaced work out of the manual and into the symbolic, with as it's users: engineers, accountants and managers.
Malcolm McCullough (Professor of Architecture, author of [non-excl] ‘Digital Design Media’ and ‘Digital Ground’) has a more involved perspective on the transformation of craft. He does not insist on social order, in fact, without contradicting Sennett, he speaks about the individual, the personal scale and the skills. In craft, manual and conceptual skills are combined in a direct handling of real objects, depending on a certain coordination of hands, eyes and the mind.” (McCullough, 1996) But industrialism started the split between hand and mind, and made for indirect actions. We left handling and manipulations inside of other systems. Automation as a consequence of industrialism, but also as an idea itself, could be pointed to as a serious factor for the disappearance of traditional artisanship: it works on the very basis of the redundancy of people and therefor of traditional tools. It displaced work out of the manual and into the symbolic, with as it's users: engineers, accountants and managers.
<!-- ### Machines -->
Machines are central to industrialisation and the symbols of automation and taylorism. Sennett explores their implications (replicants and robots) for craftwork. Machines were created for large-scale production, gradually threatening the necessity for the most skilled laborers and increased the number of semi- or unskilled workers. Machinery exists for the sake of eliminating unskilled, noisome tasks, but problems arise when they oppress and replace high-cost skilled labor, which machines are getting increasingly better at. Instead of workshops, the new working communities were steel mills and factories, and as such a new social structure was adopted, carrying different assumptions of appropriate work conditions as well as knowledge and authority (Sweeden). The industrial age introduced an unprecedented abstraction of work, in which the motion of tools was powered by machines, and their manipulation became indirect. Soon, the means of production became too extensive to be handled by the individual craftsman. (Broeckmann, 2001)
Machines are central to industrialisation and the symbols of automation and taylorism. Sennett explores their implications (replicants and robots) for craftwork. Machines were created for large-scale production, gradually threatening the necessity for the most skilled laborers and increased the number of semi- or unskilled workers. Machinery exists for the sake of eliminating unskilled, noisome tasks, but problems arise when they oppress and replace high-cost skilled labor, which machines are getting increasingly better at. Instead of workshops, the new working communities were steel mills and factories, and as such a new social structure was adopted, carrying different assumptions of appropriate work conditions as well as knowledge and authority (Sweeden, ). The industrial age introduced an unprecedented abstraction of work, in which the motion of tools was powered by machines, and their manipulation became indirect. Soon, the means of production became too extensive to be handled by the individual craftsman. (Broeckmann, 2001)
I will now re-align these elements to delineate my understanding of machine / computer practices as craft. A first point of interest is the hand, the movement and the manual action. In traditional craft, manual and conceptual skills, in a *certain coordination of hands, eyes and mind*, are brought together, combined, to directly manipulate real objects. As I earlier noted, machines have come into this harmony and detached the coordinations. A by-product of detaching and unbuilding coordination is that it is hard to tell experts from novices, the machine has a single way of doing. This de-coordinating is a key element that explains why it is complicated to view digital practice as a craft; it's making and it's result can never be put in hand, it is intangible therefor it appears unrelatable.
For further confusion, digital practices also seem as if they all start and end on the same virtualisation apparatus. Our computers today are universal tools, they are not dedicated to specific tasks, information or media. It's the same tool that a lot of people use today, for very many other tasks. Our computers today are universal tools, they are not at all dedicated to isolated tasks, they attempt to do everything, to handle everything. In this universality, we can't easily consider any specific objects or matters if we are not ourselves familiar with them. Such a system, a universal and immaterial tool, is good at creating confusion. Materiality within computers and software is based on analogy: a major portion of application software interface relies on analogies. Throughout the spectrum of software, we are asked to draw on our understanding of the physical world. Software design relies on resemblances to files, folders, documents, desktops, copying, pasting, paint buckets, wastebaskets, pencils which perform actions that rely on our understanding of manual actions in the real world. McCullough is more generous than I am in his view of materiality, and moves from hands, eyes and (hand-held) tools to representational and technological questions of symbols, interfaces and constructions. But to undo the complexity of the digital handling of craft, we need to reevaluate the constructs in the sphere of analogy and abstraction. We can rebuild appreciation by contextually and historically reviewing representations, symbols and interfaces. We must do this in order to regain appreciation for digital craft. We may no longer operate with our hands, but digital craft relies on an ideological reference to manual handling. Handling things, handling tools, handling constructs, handling objects. All of these are still as interesting and skilful as ever, as long as we are aware of them in their current abstracted states and the software designers who shape their parameters?
<!-- ### Objects and seam(s/less) -->
Still, we must talk about objects. Be they physical or virtual, the core of the subject matter is the same for a crafts-person. Abstracted objects are fundamental to the making, they are the digital crafts-person's building blocks. *Whether direct or indirect, what matters is manipulation.* (McCullough, 1996) So it was not initially clear how Sennett's second thesis (« technical understanding develops through the powers of imagination ») was to be projected in the world of software. With a more flexible notion towards the construction of the virtual objects manipulated in digital craft it can be possible to return the value of the cognitive procedures, and imagination. I used to think of a specificity of software being that it is made by people attempting to solve a problem or facilitate a specific task. The software maker building towards that unique and specific task, rarely crossing other fields or lines of work, making for an ultra tailored solution that, theoretically I did not imagine to be an interesting stimulus for imagination. The notion of object though, and Sennett's second thesis indirectly infirms my though, places the emphasis on the software maker needing not only to communicate the solution that was imagined, but the methods and constructs that this solution depended on. If and when this communication happens, then I believe that software can be a great means for applicable imagination.
Still, we must talk about objects. Be they physical or virtual, the core of the subject matter is the same for a crafts-person. Abstracted objects are fundamental to the making, they are the digital crafts-person's building blocks. *Whether direct or indirect, what matters is manipulation.* (McCullough, 1996) So it was not initially clear how Sennett's second thesis (« technical understanding develops through the powers of imagination ») was to be projected in the world of software. With a more flexible notion towards the construction of the virtual objects manipulated in digital craft it can be possible to return the value of the cognitive procedures, and imagination. I used to think of a specificity of software being that it is made by people attempting to solve a problem or facilitate a specific task. The software maker building towards that unique and specific task, rarely crossing other fields or lines of work, making for an ultra tailored solution that, theoretically I did not imagine to be an interesting stimulus for imagination. The notion of object though, and Sennett's second thesis indirectly infirms my previous though, places the emphasis on the software maker needing not only to communicate the solution that was imagined, but the methods and constructs that this solution depended on. If and when this communication happens, then I believe that software can be a great means for applicable imagination.
I see software as a space for work that is extremely tailored. If I can imagine computer programming as a sort of building by adding, manual craft is in opposition, which I tend to think of more as a sculpting of pre-existing materials. When an program that enables a virtual practice is made, the construction model is the opposite of the manual craft. The developer must consider what the premises of the practice are. She/he must develop an understanding of what the craft is, and how it can be interpreted by a computer. Then, by building, begin to answer all the needs of the (interpreted) craft. Even when done properly this is only half the battle, the communication that gives access to this program must then be engineered. Access to the end user. More than half of this work is the interface.
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......@@ -7,7 +7,7 @@ With this dissertation I attempt to understand the factors made and that make so
I hope to have addressed indirectly the situation of computer illiteracy and made a stance for what we users should be demanding. I am simply weary of interface constructs that seem to make the learning of the behind the scenes elements harder because they have no reason, and therefor make me think that there may be a hidden agenda in these practices. This suspicion is probably more often false than true, but is a growing concern stemming from “the Agile Turn”(Gürses and van Hoboken, 2016). Confirming this statement is not an area I want to research, for fear of what I might find, but the example of ways in which lack of functional computer knowledge is leveraged for a solutionist financial gain occur very often online and across digital services. They offer something for free, but get a lot more out of the data that is harvested from their user base. These are reasons why I advocate for wider spread knowledge of the functioning of information systems. Meanwhile, in and for all of this the *learning* aspects are key, and it is with the ideas of learning and spreading knowledge that I stay motivated.
To state this opinion clearly: I am not holding the position that every human must learn computer architectures and programming languages. What I am calling for are interfacing methods that do not aim for seamlessness, that reveal their parts, toggling between heterogeneous and homogeneous displays, and that trust their users as equally smart as the software builders. I do not believe that everybody must be on similar technical levels of understanding computer technologies either, but I do think that a broader and better understanding of all of the types and all of the layers of abstractions that are needed for computers and networks to function is, in my opinion, a valiant way forwards.
To state this opinion clearly: I am not holding the position that every human must learn computer architectures and programming languages. What I am calling for are interfacing methods that are not seamlessness, but that reveal their parts, toggling between heterogeneous and homogeneous displays, and that trust their users as equally smart as the software builders. I do not believe that everybody must be on similar technical levels of understanding computer technologies either, but I do think that a broader and better understanding of all of the types and all of the layers of abstractions that are needed for computers and networks to function is, in my opinion, a valiant way forwards.
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