Technologically Literate

“Porting is the process (some would say art) by which software and electronic objects are migrated from one platform and operating system to another. Sometimes porting is simply a matter of mechanically recompiling software code for a different interpreter. Other times the process is more complex and invasive, involving substantial revision to an application’s underlying source code.

For example, one of the most common obstacles to porting are the limitations of the “functions” that are available within a given operating system. (A function is a term for a computational procedure that produces a predictable result.) Depending on what function “calls” an application requires, a programmer may find that he or she must alter the appearance or behaviour of the software in order to accommodate the dictates of the new operating system-changes which may often be consequential enough to be noticed by an end user” (Kirschenbaum, 2002)

It is clear from the passage above that software engineering is ultimately a process of design. Software is thus a species of artifact. Therefore, those of us who study artifacts (anyone in our field) like books may one day also want or need to study software-first learning some of the terminology and technical issues-out of the conviction that our intellectual perspectives are unique and valuable.

This is kind of scary to me because I am so technologically illiterate (okay maybe not SOOO illiterate, but I am not an expert by any means). As a young professional in the field of information, I think I should really start to embrace the technicality of the field, as in the future, preservation, and most of the world’s information is going to become very technical!

Victoria Grant

(sorry for the long post….)


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