1980 View of Software

Software is a new enough kind of thing in the world that humans are still figuring out how to deal with it. Though it can be bought and sold, you can't see, hear, touch, taste, smell, eat, or burn it. On an unlovely flat artifact called a disk may be hidden the concentrated intelligence of thousands of hours of design, for which you are expected to pay hundreds of dollars, and which you can reproduce on your own computer with perfect fidelity in less than a minute, free. Personal computers have an inherent outlaw element. This makes them enjoyable and creative and morally interesting.

All software does is manage symbols. Unlike letters and numbers on paper, the symbols reside in a marvelously fluid zero gravity no place, where they dance with impeccable precision to your tune. Software articulates your intentions faithfully, but it eludes understanding. We treat the stuff (it isn't stuff) as if programs were just like the how-to books our Whole Earth Catalogs have been dealing in for years. They provide technique. They can transform lives. They sell cheap or dear. Some are better than others. This entire book is about finding the better ones.


Folksonomies: history computer science software

/technology and computing/software (0.675354)
/art and entertainment/comics and animation/comics (0.443316)
/technology and computing/consumer electronics/tv and video equipment/televisions/hdtvs (0.437972)

unlovely flat artifact (0.912495 (negative:-0.396807)), inherent outlaw element (0.901862 (negative:-0.632777)), fluid zero gravity (0.843852 (neutral:0.000000)), new enough kind (0.576008 (positive:0.920488)), concentrated intelligence (0.551286 (negative:-0.396807)), perfect fidelity (0.542844 (neutral:0.000000)), impeccable precision (0.541517 (positive:0.577484)), Personal computers (0.517281 (negative:-0.632777)), Software Software (0.511465 (positive:0.920488)), how-to books (0.490134 (negative:-0.366792)), entire book (0.487652 (positive:0.792138)), Earth Catalogs (0.485300 (negative:-0.366792)), better ones (0.473296 (positive:0.792138)), symbols (0.295198 (neutral:0.000000)), stuff (0.225272 (negative:-0.087863))

Computer (0.947681): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Personal computer (0.742644): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Human (0.629156): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
The Stuff (0.534000): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Aesthetics (0.501433): dbpedia | freebase
Gravitation (0.500422): website | dbpedia | freebase
Computer program (0.498148): dbpedia | freebase
English-language films (0.487659): dbpedia
Begin to Hope (0.484891): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Whole Earth Software Catalog
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Brand, Stewart (1984), Whole Earth Software Catalog, Retrieved on 2016-12-30
  • Source Material [monoskop.org]
  • Folksonomies: history computer science software