Software Practice in a South American City
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The MIT Press
Series: Acting with Technology
Title Page, Copyright
The book is based primarily on research done while pursuing a doctoral program at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and I am highly grateful to my many mentors there. From among those, Paul Duguid’s role stands out especially. Paul’s Social Life of Information introduced me...
A Note on Translation, Quoting, and Pseudonyms
Most of the quotations included in this book are my translations from Portuguese. Readers interested in seeing those quotations in the original Portuguese can find them on the book’s web site at http://codingplaces.net/, which also describes my approach to transcription, quoting, and translation...
0. The Wrong Place
Why would you come from California to Rio de Janeiro to study software developers? The question was asked in a friendly tone, with just a touch of suspicion. It would not send blood rushing through my veins if not for the place where it was asked. I was stooping in front of a small window, in the midst of...
1. Global Worlds of Practice
This book aims to understand the nature of globalization, and in particular the nature of the globalization of software work. In my approach to globalization, I start with two premises. The first premise is that globalization is a real phenomenon, and quite likely one of the most important dimensions of the set of...
2. The Global Tongue
It was a cool day in June, one of the coldest months in Rio de Janeiro, yet the air conditioner was running on high, making me think that I should bring a sweater next time to avoid catching a cold. I was in the office of “Alta,” a company in downtown Rio that, according to its promotional materials...
3. Nerds from the Baixada and Other Places
“Since I was quite a nerd, I spent most of my time in the computer lab,” said Mauricio, talking about his high school years while answering my question about how he became a programmer. The word that Mauricio used to describe himself was a borrowing from English, just like many of the other...
4. Software Brasileiro
Unlike Mauricio, Jason, Rodrigo, and most of my other interviewees, Ivan da Costa Marques did not grow up playing with computers. The first time he saw a computer was in college, which he entered in 1963. Ivan studied at ITA, an elite technical school located around 300 km away from Rio de Janeiro, which...
5. Downtown Professionals
It was late March 2007 and I was in a kombi, speeding in the direction of “Centro,” Rio’s commercial district. Taking elevated highways from the campus of Rio’s Federal University on Ilha do Fundão, the minivan flew over many of Rio’s favelas, finally landing on Avenida Getúlio Vargas, a block-wide...
6. Porting Lua
In 1993 a group of computer scientists working at a university in Rio de Janeiro developed a simple programming language called “Lua” to serve the needs of a Brazilian company based in the same city. Nineteen years later, Lua is often ranked among twenty of the world’s most popular programming languages...
7. Fast and Patriotic
Nineteen years after its first version was developed, Lua is a fairly popular language, used in a number of well-known software products, both commercial and open source, with the number growing every day. The work on spillover effects in innovation may lead us to think that Lua’s success would present an...
8. Dreams of a Culture Farmer
“World domination,” Rodrigo said with a smile, his tone suggesting that the answer should have been obvious. I had just asked him to clarify what he had in mind when he jokingly raised the question of whether knowledge of Chinese or Japanese would be more important for “his purposes.” It was a Wednesday...
This book has looked at the world of software development from a somewhat unlikely place—Rio de Janeiro, a city widely known for its beaches and music, but rarely for its software. Looking at software from such a place, however, provides us with a useful perspective on globalization— of software, of...