I want to attend to certain intersections in Galloway’s Language Wants to be Overlooked and the discussion in Chun of software as cultural and economic analog (and metaphor?) and how this enacts fetishistic computation by both user and programmer. This is, after all, a similar point of interest for both scholars, though they also reflect on the always already non-human machine logic that pervades most new media.
As an aside, I haven’t yet read the auxiliary Chun and Galloway essays on what constitutes new media, but besides some differentiation between digital and analog forms (which is again a problem of defining such), it was not clear from the assigned readings that either Chun or Galloway are interested in drawing a discrete and unifying contrast between old and new media. Frankly, from Kittler onwards, this need for discrete loci of differences is getting a little recursive, given that the conclusions one can draw from the common history of media are manifold and confusing enough.
Perhaps Chun’s Programmed Vision can provide some new avenues for thinking about specific “new” media apparatus, such as interface effects, what it means to traverse the divide between soft media and hard machines, or the weird temporalities within computers and networked communications. But let’s get back to code as fetish. The fetishistic model can be understood in both Marxist and psychoanalytical terms as the reclaiming of subjective identity, and capitalism’s extraction and commodification of such. Self-reliance, savviness and empowerment are important to the new capitalist economy, and interfaces, programming language and software in general become sites, or training grounds, for well-heeled individual consumption.
Software lets us be subjects again, ones capable of navigating complex market capitalism, which allows for more “informed” individual choices (a popularly critique of neo-liberalism). We are therefore always-already indentured, and software becomes yet another site for repeating this false subject-formation. Galloway may be extending Chun’s point about fetishistic computer-user, but only by recognizing that allegories and metaphor are both “enacted” and “resolved” in software. What I want to know is where/when/how this resolution occurs.