Software Studies

Software studies is the study of evolution and use of software in media. Software has been evolving constantly throughout recent years. Media has become more and more reliant on technology in order to distribute itself to the masses much more efficiently. Using technology, media can appear anywhere in an instance using media like social media applications, websites, and others. This evolution of media didn’t happen overnight. It is defined as two types of media: old media and new media. Lisa Gitelman states in Always Already New that the difference between the two is the accessibility between them. Old media is considered the roots of advertising. While it can be effective, it is much more expensive. New Media refers to content more easily accessible through digital media.

Software studies focus on media and its use of said software to distribute its message. Once technology became the constantly evolving platform it is now, media also had to keep up. One way of doing so was implementing software into almost everything. Software can be seen in things like computers and military weapons, to cars and refrigerators. Tesla motors is a car company that focuses on building electric cars, as well as self-driving automobiles. The software inside is super advanced, even though it is not necessarily needed.
Software focuses on the role of media in general instead of the content of media and its platforms. It also studies the way media affects culture using software. Software studies originally started by studying video games and their software and hardware contexts. Software studies are also compared with computer science and software engineering. While the three are similar in terms of examining software in information society and practical applications, they differ from the actual areas of programming.

Software in media however has changed the game completely. Traditional media methods are obsolete and have been replaced by new media forms. Newspapers have been easily replaced by websites and online newspapers. This ability to distribute media efficiently to multiple locations allows for it to easily sweep past traditional media methods.

Figure 1: Mobile phones help mass media through social media

Smart phones have also allowed for media to travel very quickly all over the world. Smart phone’s software allows for the devices to be a hub for multiple forms of new media.  From email to social media applications, individuals can send and receive all sorts of media through one object.  One post on social media can reach thousands of consumers within seconds. Twitter is used to spread ideas and new quickly. President of the United States, Donald Trump, uses Twitter for a variety of reasons including to update the citizens on bills and meetings and to rant. Smart phone’s software also allows for other types of media to be used.  One industry that began to boom was the mobile gaming industry.  This has allowed for media to be consumed via advertisements as well as the games in general. Software influences the culture of our internet.  Without software, the internet as we know it would be completely different.  Search engines and other sites all require software in order to function correctly.  Millions of people are connected over the internet which makes it a perfect medium for mass media.  Internet is used in schools, hospitals, gyms, military bases, laboratories and others.  It is available all around, whether its private or public.  What is consumed through the internet is up to the consumer. 

Figure 2: Server Room

Software’s influence on technology upgrades mediums as well.  We can access books, newspapers, and other forms of traditional media with the use of technological advances.  Emulations allow consumers to access vintage games using computer software to imitate the older device.  This develops a culture of people who use this vintage technology in order to live their nostalgia and just personal preference.  Emulation allows for older devices to still be mainstream.

Figure 3: Windows XP emulation on Mac

Software’s constant evolution also keeps modern technology at an increasing growth of developments.  Computers are constantly advancing with better screens, processors, and memory and more. Computers are now being built with AI software that will give them the ability to update themselves based on the users use of the computer.  They will also have the ability to upgrade their own settings.  Software allows media technology to continually grow.

Software studies has the potential to grow as technology is advancing at such a rapid rate.  Companies are producing more advanced products every day, and mediums will have to use this technology to stay efficient in the constantly evolving market.


Director, G. C. (2016, August 08). Traditional vs. New Media: The Balancing Effect. Retrieved from

Fuller, M. (2008) Software Studies: A Lexicon. London: MIT Press.

Gitelman, L. (2007). Always Already New (1-10).  Massachusetts, MA: MIT Press.

Knight, W. (2018, March 13). Your next computer could improve with age. Retrieved from

Laughy, D. (2007). Modernity and medium theory. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 160-168). New York,NY: Open University Press.

Manovich, Lev. (2013).  Software Takes Command (pp. 1-56). New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

What is Emulation? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Image Attribution:  Image One: “facebook” by stockcatalog (CC BY-SA 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain; Image Two: “DSC_0037.JPG” by alexmuse (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain; Image Three: “XP starting in the virtual machine” by Arthur H. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain;

Written by Brett Edwards, May 2019

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