This isn’t an official post, which would take more thought and time, but just some thoughts I had while reading.
I am always astounded at how thoroughly I enjoy reading Kittler’s books, and how much I dislike his essays. Perhaps my scholarly indigestion could be traced back to any number of causes–my indifference to Turing, binary numbers, and the potential significance of √-1, for example, or the metallic taste that numbers, equations, and thought experiments leave in my mouth. But I think my problem with Kittler’s essays arises from his incessant use of obfuscating language. Kittler has become an oracle. I accept my own stupidity, in front of which both theorists and computers stutter, but wonder what I can glean from his god-like pronouncements.
On another note, I am perturbed by Kittler’s insistence upon the hardware. If, as Wellbery suggests, Kittler presupposes exteriority, mediality and corporeality in Discourse Networks (xiii-xv), then in “There is No Software” and “Protected Mode,” Kittler penetrates further–not into the soul, but the nervous tissue–the mechanical, electrical inner-workings. Mediation (cultural), gives way to medium (mechanical/physiological). It is as though Kittler wants to engage in a physical anthropology of computing.
It may be true that everything remains hidden from the user, who is only given graphical representations of information to navigate. But I find hardware interesting only in relation to the surface effects it enables and/or produces, and what is produced by those effects in turn.