I poked my head in to the public 'pecha kucha' session for UCSD's SoftWhere 2008, but couldn't stay for the whole thing since I had a paper to write and was feeling really under the weather; I did get a chance later to talk with one of my professors, who participated in the event, and have been checking out the roundups floating around the internet at this point. I've got my own opinions on the '___ Studies' ghetto, being part of it myself — though an attempt to create a field of 'software studies' is, at the very least, not burdened with Cold War politics. Anyways, there are some concise (and not so concise) appraisals of the event floating around. Anne Helmond, who presented on the relationship between search engines and the blogosphere, had this to say:
The title of the workshop ‘SoftWhere' embodies the question of demarcating an area of study. Our current society is penetrated by and shaped by software and should thus be subject to appropriate critique. The ubiquity of software has led to a software culture and we are now living in a software society. What does it mean to live in such a software society instead of an industrial society? A world which is created by software is opaque and that is why we need to study software. We should question the streams behind, embedded in and woven through our society and look at what is happening behind the screens. SoftWhere? SoftEverywhere!
Liz Losh has a much longer and detailed explanation of the various presentations, of which there were a great many, spanning a lot of subjects, over at virtualpolitik. I've heard videos of the presentations might pop up in the future — considering the bite-sized nature of the presentations, I hope they do. And the format of confining academics to six minutes and forty seconds of presentation time? Brilliant.