chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

In this second part of the book, we propose that it is necessary to understand the kinds of technical code that already exist, and the values embodied in them, before we can propose to democratize them. Another way to say this is that the purpose of this middle part of the book is to deconstruct prevailing types of code, so that we can later reconstruct them in more democratic fashion. In our investigation, we have found that four types of technical code have developed over time-tacit, sumptuary, economic, and sociotechnical. These were briefly defined in the General Introduction, but will be more rigorously defined in the chapters that follow. They are not periodic, which would suggest that the appearance of the second replaces the first, but spatial as well as temporal-types of code appear in different places at different times. They are, then, geo-historical types that have rather porous boundaries. To make matters just a bit more complex, not only do code types develop differently across time and space, but we also categorize them as “ideal types,” by which we mean that they are logical constructs that are coherent in ways that actual human practices rarely are. In the real world, codes are commonly hybridized to fit the messy and ever-changing conditions of the city. This is why we refer to our list of categories as “taxonomic”—a way of classif - ying phenomena that avoids some of the complexity of actual conditions. Our taxonomy is, then, best understood as a heuristic device rather than a scientific fact. Coming to grips with the constant change or evolution of cities also suggests that societies continue to develop various new strategies of codemaking to articulate and enforce evolving social values.