Made to Broken/Broken to be Made


The interactive nature of code and coding relies on such human agency. Even the adaptability of languages such as XML and Javascript are still dependent on the operator and user. And this is a good thing. The notion of coding should be one in which syntax and compiling errors are secondary to the human condition; in other words, the interactive nature of the products of programming pales in comparison to the interactive construction of code. Neither, however, can operate without the operator. The significance of the human experience must remain paramount to truly understanding the nature of code and its application to composition studies. Weight argues:

The programmer engages not only two different concepts of language, but two different linguistic ontologies, deriving from the apparatus' reliance on significance, and the human interest in meaning. The human text and human dialogue are embedded within the trilogue. The ontological difference represented by distinct programming and surface texts extends beyond the fact that the screen might display audio-visual material that the programming is indifferent to. Questions of being—being human and being machinic—are constantly interrogated while composing such texts. Meanwhile, interpretation is influenced by performing the text-as-apparatus, because within that act, aporias distinguishing human and apparatus manifest. (p. 423)

Weight suggests that the combination of human thought and computer processing may yield new meaning found in the representations of either and the intersection of both. Programmers who create software must navigate both programming languages alongside and against human languages and thought. In short: we are the ghosts in the machines. The websites we create are not just representations of ourselves; they are extensions of ourselves. The compositions our students create are no longer tethered to the alphabetic essay; the text they will create in a digital world will offer greater significance as meaning is created and recreated on a continual basis.