Citation

Truth and Command in the Language of Code: (code := meaning) == (code := action)?

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Abstract:

In our globalized world, computers have become an essential component in systems of control. They were developed with warfare in mind, later formed one of the pillars of the military architecture framework, C4ISTAR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance), and now are brought to the foreground with Network-Centric Warfare. In the civil sphere, the media has been teeming with stories of computer surveillance—from Facebook terms of use, to the FBI’s “Carnivore” service-provider dragnet. In short, we have heard to what extent code is capable of control—but how receives little attention. Code is most often presented as a reified object, a static technological artifact that is, in itself, neutral. This neutrality prevents us from analyzing the politics of code itself, and encourages the perception of the internet as essentially a free place, only accidentally about control. I offer a model of code based on linguistic and semiotic theory that concentrates on how code gains its status as code, and explains its aspect of control.

As I argue, every utterance of code must simultaneously be correct, i.e. have a truth value, and act in the world, i.e. command. Code acquires its code-like character only through the superposition of two modes of meaning: the declarative and the imperative. But these two modes can only be fused together by the construction of a unitary subject that enacts that imperative. That is, the imperative and declarative only cohere together when the effect of the imperative is always and everywhere the same, when command becomes control. Even in the case of information—rather than executable code—an actor, an imperative, is required. Information only becomes information when it is referred to systems of control. However, because of the dual nature of code as declarative and imperative, information is able to hide its aspect of control. One half of this equation covers the other, and systems of control appear, in the guise of information, as systems of apolitical facts.
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Association:
Name: 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions
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http://www.4sonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p374155_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Buswell, Evan. "Truth and Command in the Language of Code: (code := meaning) == (code := action)?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Crystal City, VA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p374155_index.html>

APA Citation:

Buswell, E. "Truth and Command in the Language of Code: (code := meaning) == (code := action)?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Crystal City, VA <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p374155_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: In our globalized world, computers have become an essential component in systems of control. They were developed with warfare in mind, later formed one of the pillars of the military architecture framework, C4ISTAR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance), and now are brought to the foreground with Network-Centric Warfare. In the civil sphere, the media has been teeming with stories of computer surveillance—from Facebook terms of use, to the FBI’s “Carnivore” service-provider dragnet. In short, we have heard to what extent code is capable of control—but how receives little attention. Code is most often presented as a reified object, a static technological artifact that is, in itself, neutral. This neutrality prevents us from analyzing the politics of code itself, and encourages the perception of the internet as essentially a free place, only accidentally about control. I offer a model of code based on linguistic and semiotic theory that concentrates on how code gains its status as code, and explains its aspect of control.

As I argue, every utterance of code must simultaneously be correct, i.e. have a truth value, and act in the world, i.e. command. Code acquires its code-like character only through the superposition of two modes of meaning: the declarative and the imperative. But these two modes can only be fused together by the construction of a unitary subject that enacts that imperative. That is, the imperative and declarative only cohere together when the effect of the imperative is always and everywhere the same, when command becomes control. Even in the case of information—rather than executable code—an actor, an imperative, is required. Information only becomes information when it is referred to systems of control. However, because of the dual nature of code as declarative and imperative, information is able to hide its aspect of control. One half of this equation covers the other, and systems of control appear, in the guise of information, as systems of apolitical facts.


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