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Situated Software (30 Mar 2004)
I teach at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where the student population is about evenly divided between technologists who care about aesthetics and artists who aren't afraid of machines, which makes it a pretty good place to see the future.

Part of the future I believe I'm seeing is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I'm calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context. This way of making software is in contrast with what I'll call the Web School (the paradigm I learned to program in), where scalability, generality, and completeness were the key virtues.

I see my students cheerfully ignoring Web School practices and yet making interesting work, a fact that has given me persistent cognitive dissonance for a year, so I want to describe the pattern here, even in its nascent stages, to see if other people are seeing the same thing elsewhere.
Article URL: http://www.shirky.com/writings/situated_software.html

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