Programming as Literacy

Authored by: Annette Vee

The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138844308
eBook ISBN: 9781315730479
Adobe ISBN:


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“Computer programming is the new literacy,” say countless popular articles on education. In fact, the claims for programming as a kind of literacy stretch back to the 1960s. Linking programming to literacy is rhetorically expeditious because literacy can be an argument for funding and political support. But connections between programming and writing are more than political savvy: like writing, programming is a symbolic system operating through an inscribed language and social contexts. This chapter introduces several influential projects that have posited programming as a literacy, provides logical reasons for these connections, points to several legal cases that demonstrate how programming functions like (and unlike) writing, and concludes by pointing to several ways the humanities can contribute to understandings of computer programming as part of the environment in which people now dwell and communicate.

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