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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by transcript Verlag October 1, 2015

Signs O’ The Times

The Software of Philology and a Philology of Software

Moritz Hiller
From the journal Digital Culture & Society

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of software preservation by approaching this field from a philologic perspective. Philology here is not understood as hermeneutic operation of interpretation, but rather as practice of preserving material objects: critically providing them as basis for future investigation. Software’s status as a material object could not be more uncertain, since it merges - as a source code - a textual dimension and - as a programme - a processual dimension. It is only within the logic of this operativity that software as an object of digital materiality becomes fully conceivable. Since a philology of software would have to consider the phenomenon’s dual mode of existence as static text and/or time-critical process to enable research within both dimensions, old questions about what to preserve and how to preserve it rise anew. The paper will therefore take up a few basic notions of traditional scholarly editing, the software of philology. It explores to what extent they can be applied to objects of digital materiality in order to outline an initial idea of a philology of software.

Published Online: 2015-10-1
Published in Print: 2015-9-1

© 2015 by transcript Verlag