internet_ross


With Anne-Marie Willis, professor of design theory at the German University in Cairo.

Another world is possible. But what of worlding? How to world?

When a Farley’s barista is a strong current; wow the level of shine escaping her mouth. And I loved it. The slightest tickle of maple syrup was a great recommendation!

Per usual I sent myself something to read and didn’t cite the source so I’ve been having that weird kind of drifty, but tethered, Pong ball experience. Was it mentioned by someone in a Paper in Systems discussion? Maybe a content of the fediverse’s systems thinkers briefly held in place by my thumb.

As I like to say (with often different verses), I do software development because it’s a phenomenological wonder of people, text, code, time travel, non-determinism – and always pluckily avoids fitting neatly into capitalist fetish.

Like, software projects (already “bad” (incomplete, inaccurate) lexicon) of any substantial scope are only delivered on time accidentally.

Frederica Frabetti supports this axiomatic chiste of software, noting in her book Software Theory:

“The central problem of software development is thus the impossibility of following a sure path in which a system is completely and exhaustively specified before it can be realized.”

and

“Stability is something that happens to the system, rather than being scheduled and worked towards.”

Look how software was virtually helpless to build complex systems that are designed to become eventually consistent.

For me, software is philosophical-ing. An ontological milieu. Therefore Willis' essay is soooo good for those of us who are philosophical-ing, but not academically trained – and who can drift into this kind of theoretical reasoning easily, especially in an essay like Ontological Designing which onboards us you into hardcore theory with a ton of grace. Willis doesn’t need to spend her initial breaths on defining “ontological” and and Heidegger’s “being”, and (re)introducing us to the failure of the Western metaphysical tradition. But she is generous; and that’s likely the point. A broader appeal.

Which, in turn, helps the mind Pong around during an essay about pervasive push and pull.

I’m reading this essay about how we effect social change but also thinking through the systems reasoning and how it vibrates into software ontology. Well, there are references to IT infrastructure and other “equipment” of our present epoch – though they do not supersede other kinds of equipment. For Willis, our contemporary technologies can function both as examples of any designed material, as well as juxtapose with the immaterial (organizational structures, administrative systems, etc…) to demonstrate how they are equivalent as objects/outcomes of the ontological design circularity/looping, bi-directional reach – Heidegger’s grabbing Cartesian dualism by the shoulders and shaking them. (“Ontological designing refuses such one dimensional understandings of (human) being-in-the-world, which are worn-out fragments of enlightenment thinking and Christian morality sloppily stitched together.") As Willis notes, Heidegger themself reaches for the simple household jug to work with in his pursuit of how things, thing.

“The jug gathers and unites these.”

These being: water, wine, sky, earth. Gathered/outpoured.

But she talks about tech in a way that tickles, for sure. Especially it’s excess as it frenetically infinite loops rather than unlocks potential:

Rather than inducing us into a world of multiple creative possibilities (as software advertisers would have it), [computers] design us as users into their horizons of possibility – which by the very nature of horizons (in Gadamer’s sense) always have a limit. In fact, the proliferation of options within even a basic operating system or software application becomes a tyranny of choice, a maze of seemingly endless possibilities, a dazzling instrumentation for its own sake, all means with no end in sight.”

Maybe free software never will be truly free.