Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Word -- changing the face of programs

While we did not talk about this article much in class, I was really interested in Matthew Fuller’s “It looks like you’re writing a letter.” To me, this article not only illustrates what we’ve been studying regarding control society, the user vs. the creator and the things that the user can do in the world that the creator has given him.
Like Fuller, I am typing this article on word, and I can agree with him that since lot of the space “is taken up with grey toolbars pocked with icons.” This gives the user so much to do. From personalizing the toolbars to deciding which tools we want to use, we feel like we have a lot of freedom. This multiplicity of offerings is also available on the other applications in Microsoft Office.
While it seems like there is much freedom given to us as the user, we must remember that, like when using one of Google’s many websites, we are still in a system, and cannot go outside the boundaries, unless we are the ones programming a new version of Office. This brings us back to the control society and the idea of “always escaping, never leaving.”
It also is illustrating it’s control over us by “shifting things about in the workplace…And what it changes into at work effects how it is used, what it allows to be done, outside of work.” Word is also changing standards by changing what we think is normal for a program to give us, as “the volume of features…is often represented as a disastrous excess, but…[is] fitted up as standard” now.
I think that what word and programs in general have been doing are very interesting and definitely pertinent to the changing face of programming, and I hope that we can talk about what Fuller wrote about in section tomorrow.

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