Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing (New Accents Series)
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Rarely does the description of an algorithm run longer than a page or two of pseudo code.
In comparison, software systems are large and typically incorporate many algorithms implemented in code. For example, just the kernel of the Linux operating system currently includes over 15 million lines of code. Imagine printing it out as a book. If you print fifty lines per page, you will have a book of , pages; or, books of a thousand pages each.
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Word processors, web browsers, and video editors are all examples of systems. In computer science, algorithms are distinguished from systems. In computer science, algorithms and systems are considered two different subfields and are usually taught in university programs as different courses — even different sequences of courses — by different sets of professors. Because they name two different sets of problems. Algorithms concern the set of difficulties one faces in implementing a particular process or operation of calculation irrespective of the computing environment e. Systems, in contrast, address issues of interface, interaction, scale, and infrastructure.
System problems normally come after the algorithm questions have been answered. After that, any problem that prevents a piece of software from performing as it should perform might be a systems problem. It is like that aphorism about how if the only tool you have is a hammer, you will treat everything as if it were a nail.
For example, one might specify an algorithm for rendering detailed 3D graphics without worrying about power consumption or heat. But, as soon as one integrates such an algorithm into the core of a gaming system and tries to run it on a smart phone, there are worries about the battery life of the phone and whether or not it gets too hot to touch because the phone does not have a fan to cool it down the way most laptops and desktop computers do.
Material concerns like power consumption and heat production are seen to be primarily system concerns and not issues of algorithms. But, they are coupled together. For instance, note that if a more efficient 3D graphics algorithm is invented, when it is incorporated into a gaming system, it will consume less power and produce less heat.
In other words, the problems and solutions of algorithms can sometimes be translated into system problems or solutions; and, vice versa. Here the cloud is understood within a particular history of observation, one where the apparently abstract and obscure world can be brought into vision and rendered intelligible. What is left unsorted in a taxonomy like this is a dialectical concern: how do algorithms influence systems and systems algorithms?
Print Capitalism and Language Planning The linguistic capitalism of Google is comparable to the print capitalism that engendered the nation-states of the nineteenth century. By comparing the two it should be possible to see why contemporary software sorted spaces and distances are of both economic and geographic concern.
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So, print capitalism is an economic possibility dependent on the invention of the printed book, the creation of productions of frequent publication — like the daily newspaper — the development of the high-speed printing press, and means of rapid distribution, like swift ships and rapid rail. However, historically the standardization of languages was a political power not a power exercised directly by businesses that might profit from it.
The practitioners of language planning — the discipline of standardizing and homogenizing languages — were empires and nation-states aiming to produce and enforce a standardized, written language. Latin, Chinese, and Arabic were languages of empire. Key to the production of a standardized language are reference works, like grammars and dictionaries. One might say that the invention of the modern dictionary coincided with the invention of the political formation we now know as the nation-state.
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From the middle of the eighteenth century through the middle of the nineteenth — the time of Noah Webster — it was within the realm of the possible for one person to write a dictionary. It took Webster decades and his critics thought him mad 40 , but he accomplished the task primarily with the aim of unifying the spoken and written language of the new Republic.
It was a political project. Before, after and during the nineteenth century, Webster was far from singular in his ambitions.
Some of them even have emotional reactions to it like that suggested by the title of Robert E. Hall Jr. Linguistics as such is obviously not equipped to deal with these problems, which belong in the realm of social and political values. In general, linguistics is supposed to be descriptive rather than prescriptive in orientation.
Modern linguists study language as it is and do not necessarily make recommendations about language as it ought to be. This puts them at some distance from early-modern grammarians, like Antonio de Nebrija, whose grammar of Castilian was written with normative political goals with implications for both empire and education. Consequently, the past few decades of academic work on language planning has not taken place within the discipline of linguistics, but rather, within the field of applied linguistics, a field largely concerned with the teaching of language in schools.
Within applied linguistics, there exists the more specific field of language policy and language planning LPLP. Status planning is the legal process of making a language official. Corpus planning is the specification of orthography, grammar, and pronunciation. Acquisition planning concerns educational policy and management to ensure that the language is taught in school.
LPLP is executed in government agencies e.
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While, as a field, LPLP is able to capture the institutional forces of language planning, the technological context is largely overlooked. Anderson, following Marshall McLuhan, 49 points out that the book was the first mass-produced, industrial commodity. Might we say: one-day best-sellers?
Thus, commercial concerns benefited from the regularization and standardization of language. One could even argue that an interest in increasing market size was a force in the creation of new genres of writing. There was also an opposing operation of language differentiation at work. That is, there was not until France began to define itself as a nation-state with a national language that, necessarily, had to be distinguished from the national languages of others, like the Italians.
Publishers hoping to have a market as large as possible would, of course, prefer to smooth over the differences between national languages, like French and Italian. Builders of empires and nation-states would also like a standardized, uniform language space, but one that ends at the geographical borders. Beyond those borders, nationalists are happy to have their language written and spoken, as long as they — the nationalists — are in control of the standards. If not, then the nationalist wants to distinguish their language from other languages.
In this way, language spaces and geographical spaces are co-produced. When language difference is measured using reference works, like dictionaries, controlled by nation-states, there is a homology between different languages and different nation-states e. The Assemblages of Print Capitalism Face-to-face conversation, oral language, requires us to be able to hear one another.
The spoken word fails when, for example, a room becomes too noisy or if we lose our voice or our hearing. The written word depends on different media; it fails if we run out of ink and paper. The printed word is contingent on a much larger and more complicated chain of media technologies.
Of course, the people are important in this chain of connections, but the chain for print capitalism includes complicated machines. In comparison to the chain of connections essential to written language, print language incorporates many complicated machines; and, incorporates many, many, many more than the chain intrinsic to oral language.
Language limits can be thrown into relief when the machinic assembly of another form is referenced metaphorically. First, is an idea that reading is analogous to listening. And, second, is the corollary that aural events can be heard round the world if they are recorded in writing. One might observe that the language limits of print are assumed to be the language limits of the spoken word. Analogously, it is commonly assumed that the language limits of networked texts are the same as those limits that constrained print language of yesterday.