Understood as the instructional techniques that enable digital materials to perform

Understood as the instructional techniques that enable digital materials to perform, code is important because it forms an active layer of contemporary existence, yet to most people it remains hidden, invisible, and impenetrable. Understood technically, code provides the instructions required by software, but its instructions go beyond software functionality. Instead, code acts as a constant stream of instructions for everyday life, deeply interwoven with how we live, work, learn and identify ourselves, and how we are governed, administered, enabled and educated (Kitchin & Dodge 2011). And while code is humanly-made, scripted into being through the ‘secondary agency’ of programmers (Mackenzie 2006), it is also becoming increasingly autonomous of human oversight. Code that can write itself, machine learning algorithms, and computers that can think (to some degree) are becoming significant social and technical actors in many aspects of social, cultural, economic and political experience. The socio material perspectives introduced in the previous paper remind us that we need to approach code as an intra-active participant that is in a constant set of relationships with people and things. So, code is not just a language for computers to read. Lines of code combine with and work in relation to socially-defined codes of conduct as a set of active scripts that are increasingly generative of how people think, feel, act, form identities, and conduct themselves (Mackenzie & Vurdubakis 2011).