Concrete Software: Simondon's mechanology and the techno-social

De Montfort University Open Research Archive

Show simple item record Mills, Simon en 2012-07-16T09:00:16Z 2012-07-16T09:00:16Z 2011-10-12
dc.identifier.citation Mills, S. (2011) Concrete Software: Simondon's mechanology and the techno-social. The Fibreculture Journal, 18, FCJ 127 en
dc.description.abstract This paper proposes to build on Gilbert Simondon’s theory of the concretization of technological objects and apply the developed theory to the emerging area of software studies. Simondon’s theory of concretization describes the process of development of technical objects by applying his theory of individuation to the technical sphere. It accounts for their development as a process of the progressive convergence of separate functional structural units so that this convergence draws them into a single unit of operation which enhances their overall operation. Connected to this process of concretisation and convergence is the notion of the milieu, both in the sense that technical individuals create their own associated milieus within them which facilitates their operation as system but also that they adapt the environment around them. Although Simondon’s concretization is a powerful tool to account for technical development its concentration on purely technical matters “independent of social demand and the pressure it exerts upon the distribution and modifications of such objects” (Dumouchel 1995) makes it unbalanced. Our contention, and the argument in this paper, is that it is not just technical developments which are involved in the concretization process but that we can discern other processes/forces involved, such as cultural, economic, social and material which also become concretized in any technical development. This assessment of concretization is also discussed by Feenberg (2002) as a ‘technological unconscious’ which is ‘interpreted as purely rational and separate from society’. Our project is to extend Simondon’s notions of concretization and milieu to transductively account for these other processes and thus give a broader realist interpretation of technologies. In conjunction with Simondon’s account of psychological and collective individuation, this aids the development not just of an account of technical evolution but also the recursive effect of technology upon these other areas. The recognition of software as an important area of contemporary study is reflected in the emerging discipline of Software Studies (Fuller 2003, Manovich 2008). As our encounter with software of different types become increasingly more common, especially with recent developments in networked and ubiquitous computing, we argue that it is of increasing importance to understand software from a realist points of view. We will put forward our interpretation of concretization as one way to describe this. Theorised as a Universal Turing Machine, the computer in-itself offers no reason for why software should develop in specific directions. The implication being that it’s development should escape constraint by the physical affordances that provide the developmental milieu of seemingly more material technologies. Of course there is a material side to the development of software, the constraint of processor speeds (as tracked by Moore’s law), restrictions on network bandwidth and data storage are obvious examples. However these material constraints cannot account entirely for the nature of softwares. What are the aspects that are involved in the concretization of software? How can we use Simondon’s concepts of milieu, transduction and concretization to account for these developments? To help answer these questions we propose to look at some examples where the Internet is the technical milieu where concretization occurs. Bibliography Dumouchel, P. (1995) ‘Gilbert Simondon’s Plea for a Philosophy of Technology’ In A. Feenberg and A. Hannay (eds.), Technology and the Politics of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Feenberg, A.(2002) Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revisited. Oxford: OUP. Fuller, M. (2003). Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software. Autonomedia. Manovich, L. (2008). Software Studies: Software Takes Command. Simondon, G. (1958) Du mode d'existence des objets techniques. Paris: Aubier en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher The Fibreculture Journal en
dc.subject Gilbert Simondon en
dc.subject philosophy en
dc.subject twitter en
dc.subject technology en
dc.subject ontology en
dc.subject social software en
dc.subject twitter en
dc.title Concrete Software: Simondon's mechanology and the techno-social en
dc.type Article en
dc.researchgroup Media Discourse Group en
dc.peerreviewed Yes en

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