Title page for ETD etd-03012007-160106


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mawler, Stuart
Author's Email Address smawler@gmail.com
URN etd-03012007-160106
Title Executable Texts: Programs as Communications Devices and Their Use in Shaping High-tech Culture
Degree Master of Science
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Abbate, Janet E. Committee Chair
Allen, Barbara L. Committee Member
Reeves, Barbara J. Committee Member
Keywords
  • programming
  • open source
  • source code
  • comments
Date of Defense 2007-01-19
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This thesis takes a fresh look at software, treating it as a document, manuscript, corpus, or text to be consumed among communities of programmers and uncovering the social roles of these texts within two specific sub-communities and comparing them. In the paper, the social roles of the texts are placed within the context of the technical and cultural constraints and environments in which programs are written. Within that context, the comments emphasize the metaphoric status of programming languages and the social role of the comments themselves. These social roles are combined with the normative intentions for each comment, creating a dynamic relationship of form and function for both normative and identity-oriented purposes. The relationship of form and function is used as a unifying concept for a more detailed investigation of the construction of comments, including a look at a literary device that relies on the plural pronoun “we” as the subject. The comments used in this analysis are derived from within the source code of the Linux kernel and from a Corporate environment in the US.
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