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Modes of production

Putting Together the Alltag after the Agile Turn

Seda Gürses

In his 1994 paper, Philip E. Agre distinguishes between two models of privacy: surveillance and capture. He argues that in contrast to surveillance, which builds upon visual metaphors and experiences of secret government surveillance, the capture model used by most computer scientists is built upon linguistic metaphors and takes as its prototype the deliberate reorganization of industrial work activities to allow computers to track them in real time. In the latter model, human activity is treated as a kind of language, for which a good representation provides an accurate grammar. In this model, the developers of systems provide such grammars, the units of which are strung together to form activities. If we follow Agre’s logic, it is possible to speak of a sort of distributed authorship of everyday activities by developers and system users that is central to the production of our technologies and our Alltag. What has happened to the claims of Agre a decade and a half later? How has software production changed and how has this affected the authoring of »grammars of action«? How does authorship of the everyday look in the age of agile programming, software as a service, and the cloud? And, finally, what are ways in which we may have to rethink how we critically engage in everyday networked technologies?