New volume: Quellcodekritik

Today, the collected volume Quellcodekritik: Zur Philologie von Algorithmen – edited by Markus Krajewski and myself – is published with August Verlag (German).

From the description:

Algorithms determine our situation. From Google’s PageRank algorithm to the automatic allocation of loans, their logic intervenes in our lives at every turn. Some of them operate opaquely and shield their inner workings from prying eyes. Others strive for transparency and follow an open source ethic. In both cases, however, considerable effort is required to understand the source codes in which algorithms are written. For codes are special texts: they implement commands when they are executed and reduce expression to directives. They are therefore more and less than ordinary language. At the same time, with the possibility of comments, they always carry a meta-level on which one can communicate about how they work. This is why they also require a special philology. The source code criticism presented in this volume is an attempt to open up and interpret algorithms and make them accessible to present and future readers. It mobilizes an approach that is as much at home in computer science as it is in textual criticism. At the same time, it proposes strategies for dealing with those new language models in which codes are only at the beginning, while their statistical interior remains impenetrable. The contributions thus provide examples and methods of how classical code and artificial intelligence can be made legible.


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