Writing With Data: A Study of Coding on a Data-Journalism Team


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Coding has typically been understood as an engineering practice, where the meaning of code has discrete boundaries as a technology that does precisely what it says. Multidisciplinary code studies reframed this technological perspective by positing code as the latest form of writing, where code’s meaning is always partial and dependent on situational factors. Building out from this premise, this article theorizes coding as a form of writing with data through a qualitative case study of a web developer’s coding on a data-journalism team. I specifically theorize code as a form of intermediary writing to examine how his coding to process and analyze data sets involved the construction and negotiation of emergent problems throughout his coding tasks. Findings suggest how he integrated previous coding experience with an emerging sense of how code helped him write and revise the data. I conclude by considering the implications of these findings and discuss how writing and code studies could develop mutually informative approaches to coding as a situated and relational writing activity.



Social Sciences, Communication, code studies, software studies, computational literacy, materiality, intermediation, case study, data processing, TEXT, Education, 2001 Communication and Media Studies, 2004 Linguistics