9. The Critical Engineer notes that written code expands into social and
psychological realms, regulating behaviour between people and the machines they
interact with. By understanding this, the Critical Engineer seeks to reconstruct
user-constraints and social action through means of digital excavation.
What this strikes a chord with me about this proposition is the very explicit notion here that code is not just a technological artefact but also a cultural one. I would argue that this idea extends beyond code, to all objects of technology and design - anything human created for human use, really. The objects we design, design us - and what makes code particularly tricky with this notion is that it is often very difficult to exactly point to how the software and interface are changing us. Thus, the role of the "Critical Engineer" to dissect this social interaction and reveal it is crucial.
Designed artefacts (and this includes code) are not just banal "objects" - they are encoded beings with inherent political, social and cultural meanings - intentional or unintentional. As Abraham Maslow has been credited to have said, "When you're holding a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail" - I think the same philosophy applies for code, in an even more potent way. While a hammer is still an immobile object, code is living, acting and shaping. The way google maps shows the world to you eventually influences the way you see the world, and a critical approach to dissecting and revealing this influence must be undertaken.