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The Enframing of Code: Agency, originality and the plagiarist

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The Enframing of Code: Agency, originality and the plagiarist. / Introna, Lucas.

In: Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 28, No. 6, 2011, p. 113-141.

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Introna, Lucas. / The Enframing of Code: Agency, originality and the plagiarist. In: Theory, Culture and Society. 2011 ; Vol. 28, No. 6. pp. 113-141.

Bibtex

@article{818ae766329140239e609b9123c5e64a,
title = "The Enframing of Code: Agency, originality and the plagiarist",
abstract = "This paper is about the phenomenon of encoding, more specifically aboutthe encoded extension of agency. The question of code most often emergesfrom contemporary concerns about the way digital encoding is seen to betransforming our lives in fundamental ways, yet seems to operate ‘under thesurface’ as it were. In this essay I suggest that the performative outcomes ofdigital encoding are best understood within a more general horizon of thephenomenon of encoding – that is to say as norm- or rule-governed materialenactments accepted (or taken for granted) as the necessary conditions forbecoming. Encoded material enactments translate/extend agency, but neverexactly. I argue that such encoded extensions are insecure, come at a cost andare performative. To illustrate this I present a brief discussion of some specifichistorical transitions in the encoding of human agency: from speech to writing,to mechanical writing, and finally to electronic writing. In each of thesetranslations I aim to show that agency is translated/extended in ways thathave many unexpected performative outcomes. Specifically, through a discussion of the digital encoding of writing, as reuse, I want to suggest theproposition that all agency is always borrowed (or ‘plagiarized’) – i.e. it isnever originally human. As encoded beings we are never authors, we arerather more or less skilful reusers. To extend agency we have to submit tothe demands of encoding and kidnap that encoding simultaneously –enabling constraints in Butler’s language. Our originality, if there is any, isin our skill at kidnapping the code and turning it into an extension of ouragency, that is to say, our skill at resignification – to be original we need to beskilful ‘parasites’, as suggested by Serres.",
keywords = "agency, code, originality, performativity, post-human",
author = "Lucas Introna",
year = "2011",
doi = "10.1177/0263276411418131",
language = "English",
volume = "28",
pages = "113--141",
journal = "Theory, Culture and Society",
issn = "0263-2764",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "6",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Enframing of Code: Agency, originality and the plagiarist

AU - Introna, Lucas

PY - 2011

Y1 - 2011

N2 - This paper is about the phenomenon of encoding, more specifically aboutthe encoded extension of agency. The question of code most often emergesfrom contemporary concerns about the way digital encoding is seen to betransforming our lives in fundamental ways, yet seems to operate ‘under thesurface’ as it were. In this essay I suggest that the performative outcomes ofdigital encoding are best understood within a more general horizon of thephenomenon of encoding – that is to say as norm- or rule-governed materialenactments accepted (or taken for granted) as the necessary conditions forbecoming. Encoded material enactments translate/extend agency, but neverexactly. I argue that such encoded extensions are insecure, come at a cost andare performative. To illustrate this I present a brief discussion of some specifichistorical transitions in the encoding of human agency: from speech to writing,to mechanical writing, and finally to electronic writing. In each of thesetranslations I aim to show that agency is translated/extended in ways thathave many unexpected performative outcomes. Specifically, through a discussion of the digital encoding of writing, as reuse, I want to suggest theproposition that all agency is always borrowed (or ‘plagiarized’) – i.e. it isnever originally human. As encoded beings we are never authors, we arerather more or less skilful reusers. To extend agency we have to submit tothe demands of encoding and kidnap that encoding simultaneously –enabling constraints in Butler’s language. Our originality, if there is any, isin our skill at kidnapping the code and turning it into an extension of ouragency, that is to say, our skill at resignification – to be original we need to beskilful ‘parasites’, as suggested by Serres.

AB - This paper is about the phenomenon of encoding, more specifically aboutthe encoded extension of agency. The question of code most often emergesfrom contemporary concerns about the way digital encoding is seen to betransforming our lives in fundamental ways, yet seems to operate ‘under thesurface’ as it were. In this essay I suggest that the performative outcomes ofdigital encoding are best understood within a more general horizon of thephenomenon of encoding – that is to say as norm- or rule-governed materialenactments accepted (or taken for granted) as the necessary conditions forbecoming. Encoded material enactments translate/extend agency, but neverexactly. I argue that such encoded extensions are insecure, come at a cost andare performative. To illustrate this I present a brief discussion of some specifichistorical transitions in the encoding of human agency: from speech to writing,to mechanical writing, and finally to electronic writing. In each of thesetranslations I aim to show that agency is translated/extended in ways thathave many unexpected performative outcomes. Specifically, through a discussion of the digital encoding of writing, as reuse, I want to suggest theproposition that all agency is always borrowed (or ‘plagiarized’) – i.e. it isnever originally human. As encoded beings we are never authors, we arerather more or less skilful reusers. To extend agency we have to submit tothe demands of encoding and kidnap that encoding simultaneously –enabling constraints in Butler’s language. Our originality, if there is any, isin our skill at kidnapping the code and turning it into an extension of ouragency, that is to say, our skill at resignification – to be original we need to beskilful ‘parasites’, as suggested by Serres.

KW - agency

KW - code

KW - originality

KW - performativity

KW - post-human

U2 - 10.1177/0263276411418131

DO - 10.1177/0263276411418131

M3 - Journal article

VL - 28

SP - 113

EP - 141

JO - Theory, Culture and Society

JF - Theory, Culture and Society

SN - 0263-2764

IS - 6

ER -