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SOFTWARE TAKES COMMAND

SOFTWARE TAKES COMMAND

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Published by Aníbal Rossi
Último Libro de Lev Manovich (en inglés)
Último Libro de Lev Manovich (en inglés)

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Published by: Aníbal Rossi on Nov 21, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/13/2013

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Lev Manovich
SOFTWARE TAKES COMMAND
THIS VERSION: 
November 20, 2008.Please note that this version has not been proofread yet, and it is alsomissing illustrations.Length: 82,071 Words (including footnotes).
CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE:
Software Takes CommandbyLev Manovichis licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 UnitedStates License.
ABOUT THE VERSIONS:
 One of the advantages of online distribution which I can control is that Idon’t have to permanently fix the book’s contents. Like contemporarysoftware and web services, the book can change as often as I like, withnew “features” and “big fixes” added periodically. I plan to take advantageof these possibilities. From time to time, I will be adding new material andmaking changes and corrections to the text.
LATEST VERSION:
Checkwww.softwarestudies.com/softbookfor the latest version of thebook.
SUGGESTIONS, CORRECTIONS AND COMMENTS:
send tomanovich@ucsd.edu with the word “softbook” in the email header. 
 
Manovich | Version 11/20/2008 |
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Introduction: Software Studies for Beginners
Software, or the Engine of Contemporary Societies
In the beginning of the 1990s, the most famousglobal brands were the companies that were in thebusiness of producing materials goods or processingphysical matter. Today, however, the lists of best-recognized global brands are topped with the namessuch as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. (In fact,Google was number one in the world in 2007 interms of brand recognition.) And, at least in theU.S., the most widely read newspapers andmagazines - New York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, etc. - daily feature news and stories aboutYouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Apple, Google, andother IT companies.What about other media? If you access CNN web siteand navigate to the business section, you will see amarket data for just ten companies and indexesdisplayed right on the home page.
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Although the listchanges daily, it is always likely to include some of the same IT brands. Lets take January 21, 2008 asan example. On that day CNN list consisted from thefollowing companies and indexes: Google, Apple,S&P 500 Index, Nasdaq Composite Index, Dow JonesIndustrial Average, Cisco Systems, General Electric,General Motors, Ford, Intel.
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 This list is very telling. The companies that deal withphysical goods and energy appear in the second partof the list: General Electric, General Motors, Ford.Next we have two IT companies that providehardware: Intel makes computer chips, while Ciscomakes network equipment. What about the twocompanies which are on top: Google and Apple? Thefirst appears to be in the business of information,while the second is making consumer electronics:laptops, monitors, music players, etc. But actually,they are both really making something else. Andapparently, this something else is so crucial to theworkings of US economy—and consequently, global
 
Manovich | Version 11/20/2008 |
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world as well—that these companies almost dailyappear in business news. And the major Internetcompanies that also daily appear in news - Yahoo,Facebook, Amazon, eBay – are in the same business.This “something else” is
software
. Search engines,recommendation systems, mapping applications,blog tools, auction tools, instant messaging clients,and, of course, platforms which allow others to writenew software – Facebook, Windows, Unix, Android –are in the center of the global economy, culture,social life, and, increasingly, politics. And this “cultural software” – cultural in a sense that it isdirectly used by hundreds of millions of people andthat it carries “atoms” of culture (media andinformation, as well as human interactions aroundthese media and information) – is only the visiblepart of a much larger software universe.Software controls the flight of a smart missile towardits target during war, adjusting its course throughoutthe flight. Software runs the warehouses andproduction lines of Amazon, Gap, Dell, and numerousother companies allowing them to assemble anddispatch material objects around the world, almost inno time. Software allows shops and supermarkets toautomatically restock their shelves, as well asautomatically determine which items should go onsale, for how much, and when and where in thestore. Software, of course, is what organizes theInternet, routing email messages, delivering Webpages from a server, switching network traffic,assigning IP addresses, and rendering Web pages ina browser. The school and the hospital, the militarybase and the scientific laboratory, the airport and thecity—all social, economic, and cultural systems of modern society—run on software. Software is theinvisible glue that ties it all together. While varioussystems of modern society speak in differentlanguages and have different goals, they all sharethe syntaxes of software: control statements “if/then” and “while/do”, operators and data typesincluding characters and floating point numbers, data

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