In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • How an Academic Companion Website Makes Media-Specific Arguments
  • Hannah Ackermans (bio)

Differences in media materialities produce different content and meaning. N. Katherine Hayles's concept of "media-specific analysis" has become a staple in the study of creative digital artifacts, which she posits to "explore the dynamic interaction between the artifactual characteristics and the interpretation that materiality embodies." 1 Hayles conceives of media-specific analysis to interrogate the materiality of literary hypertext. Its print and digital manifestations make it ideal for her to analyze the specificity of the electronic hypertext.

Although increasingly commonplace in the study of creative works, a parallel for the study of multimodal academic texts is still in the evolution phase. Comparable to hypertext's print and digital manifestations, print books can have digital companion websites as counterparts. Unlike hypertexts, these print and digital counterparts usually complement each other in one project. In reviewing academic texts, we take media-specific analysis to a higher level by investigating the effects of media-specificity on the intellectual intervention of the book project. Just as Hayles argues that part of the meaning of a hypertext is in the links between textual nodes, so can a companion website make arguments by its content as well as its structure. For this review, then, my overarching interrogation is, how does the companion website reflect, amplify, and contradict the arguments made in the book?

Book

With his conception of critical code studies (CCS), Mark C. Marino aims to persuade people of the significance of source code within cultural analysis. His 2006 essay "Critical Code Studies" in Electronic Book Review started the development of CCS in a reflective, theoretically grounded manner. 2 Since then, the field has grown, with more applied publications such as Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone's Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit} . 3 Mark C. Marino and Jeremy Douglass have also organized [End Page 1011] biennial Critical Code Studies Working Groups since 2010. Through various themes, participants have collaborated on analyzing various case studies. This has led, for example, to the book 10 PRINT CHR$ (205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, 4 in which ten researchers analyze the same one-line Commodore 64 BASIC program.

Now there is Critical Code Studies. 5 Despite having fifteen years of publications before it, this book is likely to become the main source of reference for the field for its successful combination of a proclamation of the importance of source code and an application of analysis to the source code. The first chapter introduces small case studies, familiarizing the reader with code as well as contextual sources. The introduction creates a feeling of excitement. Like a treasure hunt, it motivates the reader to delve deeper into the code to find all the hidden gems within. Chapter 2 is a revised version of the initial 2006 essay, now with the new subtitle "a manifesto." This manifesto contains surprisingly little source code; rather, it engages with prior research on source code to claim its position as a field. In the rest of the chapters, this changes significantly. Through more case studies, Marino demonstrates the creativities and ambiguities present in source code. Chapter 3 analyzes the hacktivist art project Transborder Immigrant Tool as a simulation of ideologies through code. Code, then, is immediately positioned as a political signifier. Chapter 4 reflects on the so-called Climategate, in which a piece of leaked code was used as supposed evidence of a climate change hoax. This chapter almost reads like a detective novel, as the twists and turns of the analysis of the code and surrounding sources uncover the true story around "Climategate." Chapter 5 turns to FLOW-MATIC to highlight the connection and tension between coding language and natural language. Although every chapter takes an engaged approach, this chapter's perspectives especially demonstrate a sensitivity to the nuances of language in relation to gender, colonialism, and labor. In chapter 6, Friedrich Kittler's code is shown to exemplify his theoretical positions. A true humanities chapter, this analysis demonstrates the relation between theory and artistic practice consolidated in code. Finally, chapter 7 considers generative code by analyzing Nick Montfort's computer poem Taroko Gorge in relation to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 1011-1020
Launched on MUSE
2020-12-22
Open Access
No
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