Code Talk by Higgins

‘Code talk’ in soft work

Allen Higgins

University College Dublin, Ireland

A B S T R A C T The performance of writing software is an under-studied phenomenon in Information Systems (IS) studies. Key aspects of the process of software development – the practice of writing code, coding texts collectively, maintaining and extending source code – are too often glossed or treated unproblematically as technical ‘givens’ rather than social accomplishments. Although ethnographic methods are now considered a valid mode of study in the software industry, there is a relative scarcity of ethnographic studies of the performance of programming itself. Utilizing data drawn from an ethnographic study of an Irish software development company, this article presents an intensive study of what I term ‘code talk’, the verbal interactions which attend the performance of programming software. ‘Code talk’ is then situated as a crucial element of a broader social understanding of collaborative knowledge work.

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