McPherson argues that similar post-World War II ideologies can be seen both in the behavior of society during the cultural and civil rights movements in America, and in the design and development of computer operating systems such as UNIX. McPherson suggests that the de-facto rules, or UNIX philosophies, for writing programs used in UNIX were formed in order to promote practices like the building of complex programs from smaller, less complex programs, object-oriented programming, encapsulation, etc., so that the user can have a more intuitive experience while remaining blind to what’s happening behind the scenes. McPherson draws a connection by explaining that at the same time as UNIX’s development, this same type of abstraction was being implemented by society through law, resulting in “Whites Only” signs being forcibly removed in exchange for a racism that still exists, but does so hidden away from view so that the “program”, known as society, can run unaffected.
Visual analogy: ‘Input’ equals request by citizen for good or service; ‘Data’ equals good or service; First ‘method’ applies laws that ensures citizens are treated equally; Second ‘method’ equals business that provides good to, or performs service for, any citizen whose request comes from previous ‘method’; ‘Output’ equals receipt for fulfilled request.
Assume that the virus in “The Bug” is racism in McPherson’s main argument (or rather, what I think McPherson’s main argument is), you can see as Roberta learns to program and gradually becomes more familiar with the computer, she begins to pull back the vale that’s propped up by the operating system’s kernel. The more she pulls back the vale, the more detail of the machine that she can see and understand, and the more she can sympathize with Ethan’s state of distress. Before, while still removed from her future relationship with the computer, Roberta is less understanding of Ethan’s predicament and what having a bug in your program actually means and feels like. Things aren’t as pretty underneath.