Operating System Brought to you by 
Virtual Reality
Paul Virilio
Operating System

Language, Ideology and Power  in the Age of Operating-Systems
©Cyberhobbit 1997


1. Introduction
2. Operating-System and Language
3. Operating-System and Ideology
4. Operating-System and Power
4.1. Excursion: Foucault and the Question of Power
4.2. Operating-System and User: a Power Relationship
4.3. Preview
5. Conclusion
6. Bibliography

1. Introduction

During the next few years, governments, companies and individuals will make major decisions about the network. It's crucial that broad groups of people - not just technologists or people who happen to be in the computer industry - participate in the debate about how this technology should be shaped and how it will in turn shape society.
-Bill Gates 1995

When we take the statement of Bill Gates for serious, the computer developments have severe impacts on how the society is shaped and will be shaped. This essay is therefore a try to introduce the sociological terms language, ideology and power in the discussion about operating-systems. The aim is more to introduce something to think about and to offer some intellectual approaches, rather than to offer a comprehensive analysis of operating-systems from a sociological point of view.
I try to apply sociological theories to this subject, mainly Lyotard in the field of language and ideology, and Foucault in the area of power. This must be understood not as strict application, but more as a search for similarities and a try to find out, whether these theories are helpful in this area.

2. Operating-System and Language

When face-to-face communication becomes more and more replaced by computermediated communication, we need to learn a new language, to still be able to communicate. Because the media we are using widely nowadays to communicate can still not understand human language, we humans are forced to learn the language of computer.
The most basic communication interface between a personal computer (PC) and the human is the operating-system (OS) of the computer. In the age of the internet the function of a PC becomes transformed from a calculator with number-, text-, image- and videoprocessing-abilities to a medium, a personal communicator. So to use the personal communicator the user has to speak the language of its interface. I therefore want to examine the OS of a PC as an essential language nowadays to speak. And in this presupposition of understanding OSs and applications-programs as languages I am not alone. It becomes more common in everyday life to speak of computer-applications in analogy to languages. "Andrew spends fifteen hours a day on his computer, is fluent in no less than thirty applications programs..." (Turkle 1997: 37)
The evolution of the OSs are proceeding with a rapid speed. First I want to analyse some of the changes that took place, when the command-line OSs like DOS and Unix became replaced through Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) like Microsoft's (MS) Windows, Apple's Macintosh, SUN's X Windows or IBM's OS/2. What kind of changes are involved in that shift from written commands to worked graphical interfaces, a phenomenon, which did not only take place in computer-programs, but a shift that is described by many theorists as a broad cultural shift in many areas. Most of the research on this shift in the field of OS is done by examining the most common OSs for PCs in the 80s. This time there were mainly two OSs: On the one hand there was DOS (command-line) running on IBM-compatible machines and on the other hand Apple's Macintosh which was introduced 1984 and was the first widely spread GUI. "The Macintosh system, which used a 'graphical user interface' (GUI), you operated the computer the same way you 'operated' your desktop: by nesting documents inside folders and arranging them on your 'desk' - the two-dimensional plane of the monitor itself. [..] There were no numbers, no mathematical symbols to input into the machine; the Macintosh software hid all the symbolic language beneath a layer of illusion." (Seabrook 1997: 29)
The shift from command-line interface to GUI, was for the world of computer-interfaces pretty much the same than what Jean Baudrillard described as the shift from representation to simulation in a broad cultural sense. "In this way, the tools of the modernist culture of calculation became layered underneath the experience of the culture of simulation." (Turkle 1997: 34)
GUIs offered a new kind of understanding, interacting and communicating with technology. Technology became human-like. GUIs offered "anthropomorphized dialogue boxes in which the computer 'spoke' to its user - these developments all pointed to a new kind of experience in which people do not so much command machines as enter into conversations with them. People were encouraged to interact with technology in something resembling the way they interact with other people." (ibid.: 35)
Although Macintosh did not become the standard OS, "the simulation aesthetic first introduced by the Macintosh has become the industry standard, even when the computer being used is not a Macintosh. By the 1990s, most of the computers sold were MS-DOS machines with an iconic Windows interface to the bare machine below- a 'Macintosh simulator.'"(ibid.: 41)
This shift in computer interfaces is not a shift which offers only advantages. In fact many users describe their experience as a lost of control: "They make me feel I am giving up too much control." (quoted by Turkle 1997: 39)

3. Operating-System and Ideology

To speak is to fight in the sense of game-theory
Jean-Francois Lyotard

In a Wittgensteinian or Lyotardian sense these OSs resemble different language-games, which fight with each other. The fight between the different companies setting the standard of computing, is often far more than just normal competition. A user has to believe into a computer-system to buy it, and so the companies advertised themselves with myths. In the early 80s when Apple launched their Macintosh OS, the fight was not the fight Apple against Microsoft, which even helped creating Macintosh: Steve Jobbs (Boss of Apple) and Bill Gates (Boss of Microsoft) were even something like friends. The mythological enemy of Apple was the computergiant IBM. And Apple coming from something like a Hacker and Cyberpunk-background played the giant-killer in a fight David against Goliath. They launched the Macintosh OS in 1984 with George Orwell's famous novel in mind: 'We have 1984, and IBM wants to have it all. They want 1984 to become reality.'
There were myths created around the companies and these myths were also set in relation to the way the OSs worked. "The myth of the Macintosh was that it was like a friend you could talk to; the myth of the IBM, abetted by that company's image as a modernist corporate giant, was that the computer was like a car you could control." (Turkle 1997: 36) "There was IBM reductionism vs. Macintosh simulation and surface: an icon of the modernist technological utopia vs. an icon of postmodern reverie." (ibid.: 36)
Later on in the late 80s and early 90s, IBM was not the computer-giant it used to be. There took place also a shift in importance from hardware to software. And the new constellation was the Software-giant Microsoft and Apple which had undergone a lot of changes too. The founder Steve Jobbs left, Apple was a big company delivering mainly quite expensive graphical machines.
But the thinking of myths and ideologies was still common and spread even into philosophers or social theorists.
Umberto Eco saw an analogy with religions:

"The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh
computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the 'ratio studiorum' of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach--if not the Kingdom of Heaven--the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of
scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle
hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow women and gays to be ministers if you want to.....
And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic... "(WWW: Umberto Eco's Analogy -- Mac:DOS as Catholic:Protestant 1994)
This rather long quotation is not only here for the beauty and strength of its language, but it shall also introduce a way of thinking about OSs. The comparison with community-creating religions is quite helpful to understand the effects which has an OS on his user. It is important to believe in your OS because the OS do not only determine the way in which you communicate with your PC, but it also determines with which other users you can communicate. Although there are many OS-independent standards for text-, graphic-, sound- and video-files nowadays it is still necessary to run the same OS if you want to use the same application-programs on different computers. OSs create compatibility (independent of the hardware used) and therefore facilitate the working together on the same project massively. They therefore create communities, the communities of DOS, MAC, UNIX, Windows-users.
The religious war between different OSs seem to have become very single-sided nowadays. 90% of the marketshare of PCs are PCs running Windows, the rest of 10% is divided by Macintosh, UNIX and OS/2. (compare Spiegel special: 3/97) This development has the advantage that nearly all PCs nowadays are compatible, but also the disadvantages, that maybe new OS-developments are hindered by the force of compatibility.
There is also another analogy to be seen with these different language-games: An analogy to the discourse of Habermas and Lyotard in the field of knowledge. Habermas would probably argue that this consensus on the same OS enables communicative action, Lyotard would probably be afraid of the 'terror of universalism'. Lyotard argues that "the principle of consensus as a criterion of validation seems to be inadequate." (Lyotard 1984: 60) In the field "of scientific pragmatics, it is now dissension that must be emphasized." (ibid.: 61) and "it seems neither possible, nor even prudent, to follow Habermas in orienting our treatment of the problem of legitimation in the direction of a search for universal consensus through what he calls Diskurs, in other words, a dialogue of argumentation." (ibid.: 65) He argues further on that if knowledge only follows the principle of performativity, it is accompanied unavoidable by terror. So to have only one consensual standard-OS resembles universalism, which is not helpful for the production of truth, because everybody acts only for the sake of adaption. He prefers the method of paralogy as more effective for the creation of knowledge.
Lyotard's argumentation in this field is very suitable because his research done in The postmodern condition (1979) is one which investigates the production of knowledge in information-societies. And so also his warnings of consensus should be heard.
Nevertheless the world of OSs does not totally resemble these social theories. Of course exist meta-languages where different OS can communicate with each other. There is no better example nowadays than the internet with its basic information exchange mode TCP/IP and the WordWideWeb-standard HTML (HyperTextMarkLanguage). For nearly any kind of computer, applications are available which can read these standards. But with questions like these we are leaving already the area of this essay which is mainly the communication between human and computer. TCP/IP and HTML are standards computer communicate with each other.
Nevertheless the internet has some severe impact on the subject we are talking about. The great success of the internet transforms the mainfunction of a PC to a medium, with all the applications of personal communication by e-mail, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), Internet-phone, video-conferencing and so on and the applications of information- gathering, mainly the WorldWideWeb and Newsgroups. Some people actually think that sitting in front of a PC that is not online, is like sitting in a car without driving. This can be seen as how people experience the new possibilities of computer as a medium. It increases the possibilities and usage of a computer massively. The new function of the computer changes also rapidly the sense of an OS. "The new machine will be a communications device that connects people to the information highway. It will penetrate far beyond the fifteen per cent of American households that now own a computer, and it will control, or absorb, other communication machines now in people's homes - the phone, the fax, the television. It will sit in the living room, not in the study.' The cybercommand-machine: the entrance to the highway: the lip of the Net."(Kroker; Weinstein1994: 12)
So more and more the main-application of a computer becomes the WWW-browser and that is also the place where the new competition takes place, which is once again loaded with myths and notions of ideology. One of the main-fights in the software-industry nowadays is between two Web-browsers: Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Explorer.
"Seabrook notes that Bill Gates's current ambition is to have Microsoft be the source of 'the standard operating-system for the information-highway machine, just as it now supplies the standard operating-system software, called Windows, for the personal computer.' The standard operating-system will be the program that makes possible specific uses of the Net, all across the Net. Seabrook believes that by supplying the standard operating-system software for the 'information-highway machine' Gates would gain great power: 'If Gates does succeed in providing the operating system for the new machine, he will have tremendous influence over the way people communicate, with one another: he, more than anyone else, will determine what it is like to use the information highway.'" (ibid.: 13)
But what is the kind of power Bill Gates would gain in providing the standard-OS for the information-highway?

4. Operating-System and Power 

So the question for this chapter is whether Bill Gates, founder and boss of Microsoft would gain great power by providing the standard-OS for the net.
Maybe Bill Gates, founder and boss of Microsoft is somebody who likes power and control. When he was a child he experienced working with a computer as: "I realized later that part of the appeal must have been that here was an enormous, expensive, grown-up machine and we, the kids, could control it. We were too young to drive or do any of the other things adults could have fun at, but we could give this big machine orders and it would always obey." (Gates 1995: 2)
It seems to be that the experience of control was the thrill, that Gates get out of his early computer-experience in his childhood. Throughout his book The Road Ahead (1995) he explains his strategies how he want to control the software-market, how he wants to control the norm and standards of computing. He always repeats his simple philosophy of control: Licensing for cheap until you have the standard and make money later, when you have the standard. "Our goal was not to make money directly from IBM but to profit from licensing MS-DOS to computer companies who wanted to offer machines more or less compatible with the IBM PC. IBM could use our software for free, but it didn't have an exclusive license or control of future enhancements." (ibid.: 54) That was already a successful strategy in competing Apple and other competitors. "The IBM standard became the platform everybody imitated." (ibid.: 55)
Maybe Microsoft is also an organisation which has exclusive knowledge. "Microsoft's critics, including many of its competitors in the software industry, argued that Microsoft's control of the standard operating system gave it an advantage over rival makers of applications because the Microsoft application designers had special insider knowledge of Windows source code, knowledge that they could use to make their products perform better than the products of their competitor. Some competitors even charged that Microsoft secretly embedded code in its operating system software which caused other, non-Microsoft products to crash the machine - charges Microsoft hotly denied." (Seabrook 1997: 64) So the main-critics of Microsoft is that there are not opening up the sourcecode of the standard-OS Windows like for example the most common UNIX-OS (Berkeley-UNIX) is an open standard, that means that the sourcecode is publically available. Everybody in theory can access it and read its hidden secrets. For Bill Gates 'open' has quite a different meaning: "Although the term 'open' is used in many different ways, to me it means offering hardware choices and software applications choices to the customer." (Gates 1995: 67)
But the question of power is not so easy as Michel Foucault showed throughout his work. "Foucault stresses that the types of apparatuses of knowledge associated with the exercise of power cannot be considered system of 'ideology'." (McHoul; Grace 1993: 90). Foucault suggests that an analysis of power should concentrate not on the level of conscious intention but on the point of application of power. In other words, he wants to shift attention from questions such as 'Who has power?` or ' What intentions or aims do power holders have?' to the processes by which subjects are constituted as effects of power.

4.1. Excursion: Foucault and the Question of Power

Michel Foucault made valuable contributions to the scientific study of power. Foucault's theory of power can be understood as a critique of the repression-hypothesis. The repression-hypothesis, a very common way to think about power, understands power as coming from a central source, e.g. the monarch and working mainly in a negative way by repression, domination, prohibition etc. This concept of power would imply that power can be located and taken away from the powerful by the powerless. This simple way of thinking about power, the 'juridico-discursive' concept of power is according to Foucault not wrong but far too simple to explain the very complex, productive and therefore dangerous mechanisms of power in a modern society, though it might be useful to explain the mechanisms of power in a monarchy.
He therefore suggests the concept of disciplinary power which he describes as positive and productive. Power works positive as it has the effect of integration and power even creates social reality at first. "Power is not, what is was supposed to for a long time, not a sovereign centre of domination, that enforces his law from above down. It is not property and not only pure potency, not fortune or mean, that allows to enforce any purposes. Power is the war everybody against everybody, the overall context of confrontations of events and moments from body to body, the complex, decentral network of single, local, antagonistic relations of forces. [..] Everything is power." (Fink-Eitel 1989 :88 -transl. by S.J.) Power can only work in a space of freedom and works on the body through the process of normalisation. By mechanism described as the Panopticon the anonymous mass becomes observed, categorised and individualised. Power works in creating docile bodies. Foucault sees a strong interconnection between power and knowledge: "power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations."(quoted by McHoul et al. 1993: 59) For Foucault power is also anonymous in the sense that it is not a commodity "power is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the 'privilege', acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of this strategic positions."(Foucault 1977: 26)
Foucault made therefore valuable suggestions how power should be studied: "One should avoid the temptation of identifying global institutions, such as 'the state', as central conductors which orchestrate the movements of power. Instead, Foucault recommends investigation of those areas of relative autonomy: organisations which function daily in terms of their own procedures and techniques, in order to bring to light the particular configuration of power relations they depend on. In many such cases, these 'capillary' points of power's exercise surmount the influence and direction of state controls - yet their effects, of course are no less significant for this." (McHoul et al. 1993: 88f.) "Foucault also advocates the study of the effective practices of power, such as the Panopticon and the confessional." (ibid.: 89) "Thirdly power must be analysed as something which circulates, or rather as something which only functions in the form of a chain. It is never localised here or there, never in anybody's hands, never appropriated as a commodity or piece of wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organisation. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power, not its points of application." (quoted by Mchoul et al.1993: 89)
As fourth "Foucault recommends a ascending rather than descending analysis of power. Hegemonic of global forms of power rely in the first instance on those 'infinitesimal' practices, composed of their own particular techniques and tactics, which exist in those institutions on the fingers or at the micro-level of society." (McHoul et al. 1993: 90)

Oh well, that is quite a lot, so better breath in deeply three times first before I go on.
Foucault's theory has implicit a notion of power, that is complex, fuzzy and unescapable. Of course Foucault's theory is not unquestionable and is discussed very controversial. Some critics say even, his theory reduces power to something which is too fuzzy to study at all, other critics say it is a theory of resignation. Fink Eitel even says that "The will to power stayed in contrast to its deliberate aim in the basics a theory of repression, that it wanted to critisize."(Fink-Eitel 1989: 94 -transl. by S.J.) But Foucault's theory is widely referred to and provides very interesting approaches and deep insights in the mechanism of power.
However, the fuzzy and complex notion of Foucault's 'power' cannot be pressed into the remaining two pages so rather than completing a comprehensive analysis of the question of power in the field of OS, I only want to start with a first step of this analysis by viewing the micro-physics of power in viewing the relationship OS - user as a power-relationship.

4.2. Operating-System and User: a Power-Relationship

In an ascending analysis first the point of application of power must be analysed. The point of application is the relationship OS - user, which can be seen as a relationship constituted by power.
This relationship between OS - user seems to resemble a drug - user relationship. Sherry Turkle remarks: "The computer's holding power is a phenomenon frequently referred to in terms associated with drug addiction. It is striking that the word 'user' is associated mainly with computers and drugs." (Turkle 1997: 30) In fact the discourse about computer-user relationship becomes determined by this notion. 'Computer make addictive' is a wide-spread notion, especially when the computer gets online and becomes a medium with unlimited borders, this notion becomes strong. And so there are already in analogy to the anonymous alcoholics the first selfhelpgroups for online-addicts 'The anonymous online-addicts'. Paradoxically this group meets online.
But to see drug as something only addictive misses out a lot and discredits the whole concept of drug. Sherry Turkle prefers therefore another metaphor: "The trouble with that analogy, however, is that it puts the focus on what is external (the drug). I prefer the metaphor of seduction because it emphasizes the relationship between person and machine. Love, passion, infatuation, what we feel for another person teaches us about ourselves. If we explore these feelings, we can learn what we are drawn to, what we are missing, and what we need. The analysis of computational seductions offers similar promise if we drop the cliché of addiction and turn to the forces, or more precisely, the diversity of forces that keep us engrossed in computational media."(ibid.: 30) "Computer holding power, once closely tied to the seductions of programming, today is tied to the seductions of the interface."(ibid.: 31) For Sherry Turkle the notion of addiction wipes out all other attributes of drugs. And she is right many prejudices and wrong imaginations make it difficult to deal with the concept drug. But seduction can also be seen as a certain attribute of drugs and this is the way it shall be seen here, because also under other media-theoretician and science-fiction authors various attributes of drugs are the predominant way to describe the relationship between user and computer.
Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media (1965) compared media with drugs and described their effects as narcotic ('narcism and narcosis'). A similar notion one can find in Neil Postman's work.
Timothy Leary speaks in Chaos and Cyberculture (1994) of cybernetics in analogy to psychedelics. Computernetworks become therefore a kind of an hallucinogenic electronic drug. The same does Douglas Rushkoff in Cyberia (1994) and this is also a very common notion of Science-fiction authors like William Gibson in Neuromancer (1984)or Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash (1992). Paul Virilio speaks of 'de-realisation' and the substitution of reality through virtual reality' and Jean Baudrillard and Arthur Kroker share the meaning of the 'ecstasy of communication'. Agentur Bilwet describe in media archief (1992) 'drugs as media', "Plant-drugs are teleports who offer access to parallel worlds." (Agentur Bilwet 1993: 98 - transl. By S.J.), 'media as drugs': "When a new medium is introduced, a hallucinogenic effect appears. Think of the first bicycle-tour with a walkman or the first contact with Cyberspace." (ibid.:100) and 'media and drugs': "Drugs and media are equal partners. As long as the computer is not directly connected to the brain (and therefore to the process of creation), retarding and accelerating drugs are necessary to keep cool in the midst of the incredible data-interaction, that are the basis for virtual realities. Drugs can be used as meta-media, to dominate the technical media.[..] But at the same time they make technical media out of one own's nerves." (ibid.: 102)
So all in all when these theoreticians speak of the interaction between human and computer they often describe the effects similar to effects of certain drugs.
The effects of drugs are besides the notion of addiction often described as empowerment. Drugs empower in producing behavior which is not possible without the use of the drug, by enhancing creativity, physical power etc.. And the same is true for the electronic drug: "The web of interconnected computer networks provides the ultimate electronic neural extension for the growing mind."(Rushkoff 1994: 25) The notion of empowerment goes along with McLuhan's notions that media are extensions of the senses, the mind and even the body (e.g. Cybersex with datagloves and datasuits). And every new software or every new version of an OS offer new possibilities what to do, new communication facilities etc. and therefore new possibilities for extension and empowerment.
The notion of drug in analogy with computer can be seen similar to what Foucault described as the productive work of power. Power does not repress behaviors but shapes and creates a relationship and therefore social reality at first place. And along with that goes the notion of normalisation. Also the use of an OS leads to something similar to the process of normalisation, it leads behavior in a certain direction (effects of compatible computing). I works in a 'space of freedom'. Of course you do not have to use the standard OS, but an OS without software-applications for it is pretty useless. So most users want to have the norm, the standard-OS to experience the greatest possible empowerment. So if you use a wide-spread OS it is similar to use a widespread drug, because then you are part of a OS-community (similar to drug-community) and you are not on your own.

4.3. Preview

This is only the first step of a power-analysis according to Foucault. So it is far too early to make a proper conclusion. The analysis of power could go on along some striking analogies, which cannot be fulfilled here due to the limits of this essay.

a) OS as an instrument of surveillance. "Another parallel is between the Panopticon an the computer monitoring of individuals in advanced capitalism." (Sarup 1993: 68) A parallel examined also in William Bogard's book The Simulation of surveillance (1996.)
b) Power as exercised through a netlike-organisation analogue to Computernetworks e.g. Internet or MSN (Microsoft Network)
c) Power as something that circulates analogue to software which you cannot possess but the user can just buy the right to use it.
d) The individualisation of PC-users through the use of personal computers.
e) OS as reducing the user to a Cyborg and Cyborg politics as a continuation of Foucault's biopolitics: "Michel Foucault's biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of Cyborg politics, a very open field." (Harraway 1991: 150)
f) Foucault's discoursivation of sexuality parallel to Cybersex as created through hard-,soft-, and wet-ware
g) The connection between knowledge and power along the exclusive knowledge about sourcecodes of Software-companies

So it is far too early to make a conclusion or even to locate power, which you cannot do with Foucault's theory anyway. But there seems to be a certain direction which can be seen out of the capillary point of the user-OS relationship. The OS can be seen as an instrument which exercises power in a paradox way. If software is something like a drug, than the role of Microsoft and Bill Gates, but also any other software-company is something like the role of a drug-dealer, with effects in both directions. They empower their customers, but keep control over their products by keeping the source-code secret. Something like Kroker described: "Gates, indeed, has no interest in the conventional politics of the communication revolution. [..] Gates only cares that we all  get into cyberspace: the seducer as great facilitator." (Kroker; Weinstein 1994: 13)

5. Conclusion
It became quite a challenge in the end to try to apply sociological theories to the complex competitions in the software-industry. So I cannot offer a certain conclusion, the aim of this essay was anyway more to problematize certain aspects of the OS, than putting things clear. But I hope I was successful with this. I hope I could make clear why computer-software and especially OSs should be studied from a sociological point of view and that it makes sense to introduce certain sociological terminology into the study of software.
So I hope it provided something to think about and in the end I must say that I think it is important to take Bill Gates suggestion from the introduction for serious and think about the subjects, because more people will be affected by the effects of the information-revolution than probably know about it so far. If informatics shape society in such a massive way than it is time that sociology and informatics enter a proper discourse for the benefits of both. Informatics could rely on a longstanding tradition of sociological theory in applying sociological terminology, but also problematisations and suggestions of solution. So for example the competitions in the field of OS could be viewed similar to Lyotard investigations into knowledge and so this field can be problematized similar to his theory. Also sociology could learn from developments in informatics, which are by far more predictable than social developments, in which direction society goes.

6. Bibliography

Agentur Bilwet 1993: Medienarchiv. Bensheim, Düsseldorf: Bollmann
original: 1992: media archief. Amsterdam: Uitverij Ravijn
Bogard, William 1996: The Simulation of Surveillance: Hypercontrol in telematic societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Buick, Joanna; Jevtic, Zoran1995: Cyberspace for Beginners. Cambridge: Icon
Fink-Eitel, Hinrich 1989: Foucault zur Einführung. Hamburg: Junius
Foucault, Michel 1977: Discipline & Punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books
Gates, Bill 1995: The Road Ahead. London: Penguine Books
Gibson, William 1984: Neuromancer
Harraway, Donna J. 1991: Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Associations Press
Kroker, Arthur; Weinstein, Michael A. 1994: Data Trash : the theory of the virtual class. Montreal: New World Perspectives
Leary, Timothy 1994: Chaos and Cyber Culture. Berkeley: Ronin
Lyotard, Jean-Francois 1984:The Postmodern Condition: a report on knowledge. Manchester
McHoul, Alec; Grace, Wendy 1993: A Foucault Primer: Discourse, power and the subject. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press
McLuhan, Marshall 1965: Understanding Media: The extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill
Rabinow, Paul (Ed.) 1984: The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books
Rushkoff, Douglas 1994: Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace. London: Flamingo
Sarup, Madan 1993: An introductory Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism. New York et al.: Harvester
Seabrook, John 1997: Deeper: A two-year odyssey in Cyberspace. London: Faber and Faber
Sheridan, Alan 1980: Michel Foucault: The will to truth. London, New York: Routledge
Stephenson, Neal 1992: Snow Crash. New York: Bantam
Turkle, Sherry 1997: Life on the Screen: Identity in the age of the internet. London: Phoenix

Spiegel Special: Abenteuer Computer: Elektronik verändert das Leben. März 1995, Nr.3, Hamburg: Spiegelverlag
Spiegel Special: Der digitale Mensch: Computer verändern die Welt. März 1997, Nr.3, Hamburg: Spiegelverlag
Time-Magazine: Vol.149 no.5, Feb3, 1997. Amsterdam etc.: Time inc.

It has to be taken into account that WWW-Sources are not very stable. Addresses often change or disappear at all.
Umberto Eco's Analogy -- Mac:DOS as Catholic:Protestant. September 30, 1994. WWW: http://www.umds.ac.uk/elsewhere/cauty/eco.html