Source Code as a Literary Technology? On the Production of Facts in Digital Research

Radim Hladík



The increasing use of digital technologies in scientific work and communication raises the question of the epistemological nature of knowledge thus produced. In this essay, I am employing the conceptual apparatus developed by Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer for the analysis of the historical dispute between Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes over the ways of producing knowledge in natural philosophy, and applying it to digital research. Their concept of three knowledge-making technologies – material, literary and social – appear to be heuristically useful concepts for reflecting on digital technologies as well. The latter are presented in the essay not as a separate facts-producing technology, but as elements around which the existing scientific technologies are radically reconfigured. Particular attention is paid to the concept of code as a literary technology and the role of digital technologies in the humanities.


literary technology; source code; e-research; scientific knowledge; digital humanites

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