PPIG 2006 - 18th Annual Workshop
Reading as Part of Computer Programming. An Ethnomethodological Enquiry
John Rooksby, David Martin, Mark Rouncefield
Abstract: This paper examines reading as done by programmers engaged in software development. Reading is an activity we feel should be of fundamental interest to studies of programming, but the practical achievement of which has not been closely examined. We give examples of programmers reading in pairs, and reading alone, and show reading in both cases to be explainable in terms of shared social practices. These practices are not determined by the code but nor are they purely socially constructed; rather they lie in the linkage be-tween the code and programmers’ ways of reading the code. We discuss (1) how features of day-to-day coding work create pertinent occasions for reading a certain piece of code, (2) how programmers order and expect there to be an or-der to code, and (3) how programmers have ways of analysing code in order to make sense of it. This is an ethnomethodological study that draws from ethno-graphic fieldwork at a professional software development company.