What is it about?

This chapter addresses the challenge of understanding how, and to what extent, the social order that forms around the design and use of software objects enables and constrains media work. The author demonstrates how cultural biographies of application software can serve as a useful conceptual and methodological framework for an investigation of digital objects for media work, specifically as a means of understanding the contingent relationships between an object’s categories and the practices surrounding its design and use. The author draws from a specific case study of Adobe Photoshop’s categorization as a tool and the practices of imaging, playing, and developing the application software.

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Why is it important?

Much research on media work treats application software as tools for supporting work. This chapter uses a case study of Photoshop to show how application software are much more than just instruments to support media production workflows and instead are part of a larger assemblage of cultural practices related to media work.

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This page is a summary of: A Cultural Biography of Application Software, January 2016, Nature,
DOI: 10.1057/9781137541949_14.
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