Discussion and a request for critique: Networked Modes of Production: Source Code Control as the Post–Fordist Factory by Quinn Dupont.
Please join us this Thursday, 27 October 2011, at 4:00pm in 3420 Boelter Hall
As the toolbox is to the carpenter, software engineering is to the modern programmer. But, unlike the carpenter, we now live in a post-Fordist and post-Taylorist world, and the modes of production of the last century no longer matter in the world of immaterial bits. Or so the story goes. By examining the history of a single, near-ubiquitous software production tool—the source code control/versioning system—this paper reveals old modes of production in new, distributed configurations.
As computers grew in popularity in the late 1950s, and software became physically removed from computing hardware, the need for trained software programmers expanded, until in 1968 it was declared that an answer to the “software crisis” was urgently required. Simultaneously, agitation and revolt against hierarchical technocracy grew, putting computing technology front and centre in the battle for democratic ways of being. The technocratic reply was to launch the field of software engineering, and within a year the first source code control tools were developed. By 1972, Marc Rochkind developed the Source Code Control system within Bell Labs and the modern mode of software production was practically cemented. The effect of these tools was similar to the effect of factory architecture, conveyor belts, and time studies to mechanical production from earlier in the 20th century. In the late 20th century these tools developed new networked capabilities, and prompted a new distributed and collaborative mode of production—first within local networks, and then globally as the Internet reached yet further beyond these new factory walls.
Quinn Dupontis a University of Toronto iSchool doctoral student and Enhanced MITACS Accelerate PhD Fellow at Algorithmics Inc., an IBM Company.