Announcing a New Platform for Critical Code Studies

Announcing ACLS Workbench: A new site for collaborative Critical Code Studies!

ACLS Workbench Tour from Mark Marino on Vimeo.

ACLS Workbench is a new platform for collaborative research, which enables scholars to create, join, or clone online arguments enhanced with multimedia content.

ACLS Workbench has two novel features: the “join” feature and the “clone” feature. The join features allows new collaborators to apply to join your research project. The clone feature allows scholars to copy entire books so they can build their own interpretations.

The platform also enables the annotation of source code.  Participants in CCSWG14 were invited to test this platform, and from that group, we have forthcoming collaborative readings of code.

ACLS Workbench is built on the ANVC Scalar platform, which offers special affordances for presenting multimedia content and custom hyperlinked paths through material. Combined with features to annotate video and code along with Workbench’s affordances, this new platform offers a powerful tool for collaboration. (Video introduction of the site: )

As a demonstration of Workbench, we are launching Reading Project, the online companion to our recent book: Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone’s Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit just published by University of Iowa Press.

The book offers a collaborative investigation of one work of digital literature, modeling an argument for more intensive collaboration in the digital humanities by combining scholars who draw their methodologies from visual analytics, Critical Code Studies, media archaeology and others. The ACLS Workbench site presents our arguments and findings in an online multimedia format. Crucially, future scholars may clone our online book and use its assets to build new arguments.

The book argues: “Collaboration can produce understandings that are greater than the sum of their parts. Conversely, collaboration can foster new ways of understanding what we do as critics, scholars, and readers. Such reflection and innovation is vital not only to literary criticism but also to the future of the humanities more generally” (137). Workbench was designed to present and promote these collaborations.

ACLS Workbench was designed by Jessica Pressman (San Diego State U), Mark C Marino (USC), and Jeremy Douglass (UCSB) as part of an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship in collaboration with Lucas Miller, Craig Dietrich, and Erik Loyer. The platform is online and freely available. The demonstration book Reading Project was developed with the kind permission of William Poundstone and the assistance of Elizabeth Shayne.

Contact Us:

Jessica Pressman, jessicapressman0 at gmail
Mark Marino, markcmarino at gmail
Jeremy Douglass, jeremydouglass at gmail

For more on Scalar, see:

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Joellyn Rock Presenting at USC Jan 14

Joellyn Rock
11am Wednesday
January 14, 2015
SCI 108, USC

A visual narrator, Joellyn Rock is particularly interested in how emerging media is changing the ways that stories can be told. Rock teaches digital art at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she helped establish the Motion and Media Across Disciplines Lab. She will share her creative process working with digital narrative and multimedia installation in a range of hybrid text/image/video projects. Her recent collaborative work, The Sophronia Project, was showcased at the Walker Art Center for NorthernSpark 2014.

The Writing Program,
The Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab

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CCSWG14 Week 2 Highlights

by Viola Lasmana

Critical Code Studies Working Group 14
Week 2 Highlights

After a generative first week discussing “Exploratory Programming,” the Critical Code Studies Working Group wraps up another exciting week of discussion on “Feminist Programming” led by Arielle Schlesinger with Jacqueline Wernimont and Ben Wiedermann as discussants.

As of March 13, 2014, the CCSWG has increased to a total of 97 participants, and Schlesinger’s “Feminist Programming” thread has garnered 48 comments. There is now a total of 11 Code Critique threads, with the latest one, “‘After Jasper Johns’ and ‘Flag,’” added by Nick Montfort.

So far, we also have 5 Workbench Projects (listed below) that are meant to be collaborative code readings using the ACLS Workbench platform. Participants are encouraged to join one of the Code Critiques marked Workbench, start their own, or label an existing Code Critique thread Workbench as an invitation to others. More than just a simple Code Critique discussion thread, these explorations would lead to media-rich examinations of code objects, including text, video, images, and other forms of media. The work on these critiques will only begin during the WG, and their finished versions will be potential candidates for publication in a special issue of the innovative, peer-reviewed journal Vectors.

“Siri’s grandmother: Weizenbaum’s ELIZA” by Mark Marino
“Haints Seraphs Griot” by Mark Marino
“Null Programs” by Nick Montfort
“In Pursuit of Natural Language: FLOW-MATIC” by Mark Marino
“This is Not Super Mario Bros.: Cory Arcangel’s Mario Clouds” by Patrick LeMieux

Continue reading

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CCSWG14 Week 1 Highlights

Critical Code Studies Working Group 14
Week 1 Highlights
by Viola Lasmana

The 3rd biannual Critical Code Studies Working Group (CCSWG), organized by Mark Marino and Jeremy Douglass, launched a great first week with Nick Montfort’s discussion of “Exploratory Programming,” a conversation that has raised thought-provoking concepts and issues and become an immensely useful resource for tinkering with various programming languages and projects.

As of March 4, 2014, the CCSWG has a total of 90 participants, and Montfort’s discussion thread has garnered 84 comments. To date, 10 Code Critique Threads have been posted for further discussion:

“Exploratory Code Sample: Cable” by John Bell
“Code that encourages exploratory coding by modification: Function Explorer” by Frances Van Scoy
“Esoteric Code Languages and Other Ephemera” by David Berry
“Cryptographically-obfuscated code” by Quinn DuPont
“‘Genderswapping’ or ‘Misgendering’? A Question of ‘Jailbreaking the Patriarchy’” by Chris Lindgren
“SCIGen” by Zach Whalen
“Hey, you: Interpellation via Perl” by the WG organizers, Mark Marino and Jeremy Douglass
“Feminist Code: micha cárdenas” by Arielle Schlesinger
“Considering rhetorical genres in code via Gary Bernhardt’s ‘wat’ talk” by Kevin Brock
“In Pursuit of Natural Language: FLOW-MATIC by Grace Hopper” by Mark Marino

Continue reading

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CCSWG14 Preview

[updated: 2/13] The Critical Code Studies Working Group (Feb 23-March 23) is the biannual summit for the major developments in code studies.  The group tends to be an interdisciplinary mix of scholars and artists with a wide range of specialties.  Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the members who will be joining us for CCSWG14 in addition to our featured presenters.  Applications are due Feb 15th.

Invited & Featured Participants (partial list)

David M. Berry
Wendy Chun
Damon Loren Baker
Stephanie Boluk
Evan Buswell
Geoff Cox & Alex McLean (authors of Speaking Code)
N. Katherine Hayles
Steve Klabnik
Adeline Koh
Patrick LeMieux
Pierre Levy
Elizabeth Losh
Judy Malloy
Lev Manovich
Tara McPherson
Netwurker Mez
Nick Montfort
Lisa Nakamura
Jessica Pressman
Amit Ray
Roopika Risam
Arielle Schesinger
Jacqueline Wernimont
Ben Wiedermann
Roger Whitson
Mark Wolff

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CFParticipation: CCS Working Group 2014 (2/15, 2/23-3/23/14)

Critical Code Studies Working Group 2014
Feb 23-March 23, 2014

(updated 2/15) Announcing the 3rd biannual Critical Code Studies Working Group , Feb 23-March 23, online. CCSWG is the major online think tank for Critical Code Studies, a hub of dialogue and collaborative inquiry that generates major thrust in the reading of code.  The threads from the first were published in electronic book review, as will the threads from the subsequent CCSWGs.  Past discussions have led to books (10 PRINT), essays, and conference panels. Join us for explorations for the intersections of computer source code and the humanities.

Major Topics:
Nick Montfort: Exploratory Programming
Arielle Schlesinger with Jacqueline Wernimont & Ben Wiedermann: Feminist Code
Adeline Koh, Amit Ray, Roopika Risam: Postcolonial Critical Code Studies

Coordinated by Jeremy Douglass, Viola Lasmana, & Mark C. Marino

To apply to join the working group, please send an application to ccswg14 at gmail by Feb 12th including:

  • Name:
  • Institutional Affiliation:
  • Past work or study related to Critical Code Studies
  • (Recommended) Proposed Code Critique thread or related discussion
  • Brief Bio

A “code critique” is a segment of code (or entire program) you wish to offer for discussion by the working group.  You can see examples of code critiques in these HASTAC threads.

Notice of acceptance will be given by Feb 18. Send applications to ccswg14 at g- mail dot com.

CCSWG is sponsored by the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab at the University of Southern California.  Twitter: @haccs
Special thanks to HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance Collaboratory) for its support in fostering discussions of CCS, including the original conversation on which Arielle Schlesinger introduced her inquiry into a Feminist Programming Language.

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Nick Montfort: Computational Poetic Models 1/16

For the first event of 2014, HaCCS Lab welcomes Nick Montfort for a guest talk, co-sponsored by the iMap Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

8bit Nick

Computational Poetic Models
Thursday, January 16, 2014
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
SCA Complex
SCI Room 108

Economists use computers to model economies, while architects model buildings using computers. Programming such models is now an essential method in many fields for both analysis and the creation of new work. Nick Montfort will discuss how programming computer models has been a part of his projects in the humanities and the literary arts. This type of literary computing can be done by motivated individuals or by small groups of collaborators, as he will show by demonstrating several small-scale literary models. He will also describe two projects, Curveship and his collaboration Slant, that show how larger-scale literary modeling can be done. His presentation will include a discussion of the literary concepts explored by my work and a reading of some of my digital poems.

Nick Montfort, an associate professor of digital media at MIT and faculty advisor for the Electronic Literature Organization, works at the intersection of digital media and creative writing. His digital media writing projects include the interactive fiction system Curveship and (with international collaborators) the large-scale story generation system Slant; the ppg256 series and Concrete Perl set of very small-scale poetry generators; the group blog Grand Text Auto; Ream, a 500-page poem written on one day; Mystery House Taken Over, a collaborative “occupation” of a classic game; Implementation, a novel on stickers written with Scott Rettberg; the interactive fictions Winchester’s Nightmare, Ad Verbum, and Book and Volume; and several other digital poems and language generators, including the collaborations Sea and Spar Between and The Deletionist. Other projects include 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, a 10-author single-voice publication that Montfort organized and which focuses on a one-line Commodore 64 BASIC program, Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System, written with Ian Bogost and the first book in the Platform Studies series which he co-edits. He also wrote Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction and edited The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 (with N. Katherine Hayles, Stephanie Strickland, and Scott Rettberg), and The New Media Reader (with Noah Wardrip-Fruin). Montfort is currently writing Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities, completing a book of poetry to be published by Counterpath Press, and further developing several digital projects.

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Of Five or Ten Minds about Collaboration (Jan 22)

Announcing cross-town events on collaborative scholarship!

The Co-Creators of 10 PRINT and Digital_Humanities Get Together to Talk about New academic Authoring:

12PM Broad art center
240 Charles E. Young Drive, RM 1250
LA, Ca 90095
310-825-9007 for info
6pm, Kerkhoff (KER)
734 W Adams
LA, CA 90089

A presentation and discussion about emerging models of collaborative writing and scholarship featuring authors of the recently published 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 and Digital_Humanities (both from the MIT Press & both available in open access, freely downloadable versions).

10 Print takes a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. Digital_Humanities explores methodologies and techniques unfamiliar to traditional modes of humanistic inquiry—including geospatial analysis, data mining, corpus linguistics, visualization, and simulation—to revitalize the liberal arts tradition in the electronically inflected, design-driven, multimedia language of the twenty-first century.

The authors chose to create unified, choral voices for their books, a choice more common in the sciences than the humanities, rather than collecting individually attributed chapters or essays.

From 10 Print: Nick Montfort (MIT), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), Mark C. Marino (USC), and Casey Reas (UCLA).

From Digital_Humanities: Anne Burdick (Art Center), Johanna Drucker (UCLA), Peter Lunenfeld (UCLA), and Todd Presner (UCLA).

The events are co-sponsored by USC’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab and by UCLA’s Design Media Arts.

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Announcing the Publication of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

This week marks the publication of the first book-length work of criticism under the mantle of Critical Code Studies.  Published by MIT Press, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 is a book borne of the first Critical Code Studies Working Group, following (a labyrinthine path via) a thread offered by Nick Montfort.  Drawing upon approaches of computer science, design, art history, science and technology studies, and more, this volume demonstrates how much can be said about just one line of code, a BASIC program that creates a pattern that resembles mazes.

Writing as one, the ten authors include: Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, Noah Vawter.

10 PRINT demonstrates how much can be said about even one line of code and how just one line of code can serve as the entryway into an exploration of computational culture of a particular historical moment.

Also, since it was published in the Software Studies series with the two editors of the Platform Studies series, Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost, this book offers a glimpse at the intersection of these approaches with Critical Code Studies.  The book explores how the hardware platform made this particular piece of software so compelling as a first taste of the potential of programming to beginners taking  up BASIC.

The publication of the book is being kicked off with presentations and exhibits in Cambridge, Mass., and will be appearing in various locales across the country, details to follow.

The book will be available for shipping via Amazon as of 11/28/12.

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Welcome to the HaCCS Lab

The Haccs Lab LogoThe Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab is the first university space to pursue the exploration of the interpretation of computer source code using the methodologies of Critical Code Studies. Based at the University of Southern California, the HaCCS Lab will promote the development of critical vocabulary, case studies, and cross-disciplinary dialogue, specifically between the humanities and computer science.

According to the essay that initiated the field, Critical Code Studies is the application of humanities hermeneutics to the interpretation of the extra-functional significance of computer source code. Examining digital objects primarily through the lens of the code, Critical Code Studies explores the rhetoric, material history, style, and culture of code — aspects that have previously been only marginally discussed in computer science courses and scholarship. In this way, CCS offers to bridge computer science with scholars in the areas of letters by opening up discussions about the implications of the source code that directs so much of contemporary life. CCS extends the pursuit of code analysis beyond what the code does to ask what the particular configuration of signs means for the culture at large.

USC has been at the center of Critical Code Studies since its inception in 2006. It held the first conference in Critical Code Studies and facilitated the 2010 Critical Code Studies Working Group. The proceedings from the first conference appear in USC-based Vectors journal. Although CCS is a discipline that is spreading across the country as well as internationally, the founding of the lab at USC will help to foster the development of code scholarship at an institution that has played such a pivotal role.

The HaCCS Lab has been established to serve as a resource for scholars embarking on critical code studies, by building bibliographies, directing research, and pursuing grants for the development of the field. It will promote the learning of programming languages and coding paradigms by humanities scholars as well as the “translation” of humanities hermeneutics into the conceptual paradigms of computer science. The Lab will also work to articulate Critical Code Studies with the related fields of Software Studies, Platform Studies, and Media Forensics.
The HaCCS Lab will promote dialogue by organizing conferences and symposia that bring together computer science and humanities researchers in order to establish a common vocabulary.

The HaCCS coordinates its efforts with a variety of campus units, including:
• The Institute for Multimedia Literacy
• The Center for Scholarly Technology
• The Center for Transformative Scholarship

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