5 November 2021

Eva Otto presents at The Anthropology of Technology Conference

At the conference Anthropology of Technology which took place in Aarhus November 4-5, 2021, PhD fellow on the DISTRACT project Eva Iris Otto gave a presentation entitled ”I wouldn’t be able to code without google”.

The presentation was about how open-source communities shape proprietary coding and thus ultimately the software products (e.g., shopping apps etc.) that shape everyday actions. It was part of the panel ‘Digital Communities, Communities Digitized?’


Commercial software developers will tell you – only half as a joke - that what they do for a living is googling things on the internet. During their work, developers continuously turn to online communities such as knowledge-sharing (i.e., Stack Overflow) and code-sharing (i.e., Github) sites. Here, they engage in reciprocal relations within a loosely defined community but also have to immerse themselves in an immensely competitive space, where developers vie for fame within the profession. Such community sites thereby facilitate very specific socialites, in which developers must be able to navigate. In this paper, I engage empirical material from a year of fieldwork among proprietary app developers in Denmark. Based on this, I will analyze how a closer study of the engagement of proprietary developers of these online communities, and the mirroring and juxtaposing of social elements from these online communities within the software company in which they work, gives a fundamental insight into both how proprietary companies build digital software and what software they build. The relation between proprietary developers within private companies and online coding communities thereby has an impact on how current digital infrastructures are constructed and ultimately how digital life can be lived.