Reading Response 9 on Kittler’s “There is No Software”

Summary: Kittler looks at the origins of software and its evolution. He also goes on to question whether or not our notions of software, its identity, and its use are correct.

Important Points:

  1. “Surely, tapping the letter sequence WP and Enter on an At key-board does not make the Word perfect, but this simple writing act starts the actual execution of WordPerfect.” 149

This excerpt is important because it shows that the software does not perfect the user’s input, which is assumed by the software’s title, WordPerfect. It is still up to the user to perfect the words.

  1. “When meanings come down to sentences, sentences to words, and words to letters, there is no software at all. Rather, there would be no software if computer systems were not surrounded by an environment of everyday languages.” 150

This is important because Kittler is challenging the existing notions of software. He is putting importance on the existing languages and people’s understanding of them because without them, there would be no reason for the software to exist.

  1. “One-way functions… hide an algorithm from its result.” 151

I found this quote to be important because it reminded me of words on a page. Words usually have some sort of meaning in which the reader must find such as a theme in a story.

Confusing Points:

  1. “First, on an intentionally superficial level, perfect graphic user interfaces, since they dispense with writing itself, hide a whole machine from its users. Second, on the microscopic level of hardware, so-called protection software has been implemented in order to prevent ‘untrusted programs’ or ‘untrusted users’ from any access to the operating system’s kernel and input/output channels.” 151.

This was confusing because I was not sure what Kittler was referring to. I did not see how this excerpt was tied to the rest of the article and the argument about software as a whole.

  1. “That is why the unpronounceable acronym WP, this posthistoric revocation of a fundamental Greek innovation, is not only necessary, but amply sufficient for postmodern wordprocessing.” 149.

I feel like this quote is there for the purpose of being here. The allusion to ancient Greece makes the article even more confusing because Kittler does not elaborate on it. Instead of following his argument, I was caught up on trying to connect it with ancient Greece.

Discussion Question:

I noticed a connection with One-way functions and words written or printed on a page. Do you think there are any other connections between software and print?