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Arnaud Bailly - On the Mode of Existence of Software

What is software?

Is software development engineering or art? What if software "was" not? What if it could only be approximated and never been given a precise ontological definition? What if the correct paradigm to think about software was the infinite network of potentiality it creates and is part of?

This talk is an attempt at deconstructing all the representations that are commonly used to talk about software, be it building (e.g. constant reference to Christopher Alexander's work), craftmanship, engineering, science... I will try to demonstrate that software has its own specific mode(s) of existence and consequently must be addressed in specific ways, lest we stay at the doorstep of understanding it. In particular, I will criticise static views of software and specifically the mere concept there is such a thing as software design.

This talk is highly experimental, philosophic and controversial: Questions, feedback, critics and arguments are most welcomed.