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Hardcover | $34.00 Short | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780262018074 | 272 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 5 figures| September 2012
eBook | $24.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262306508 | 272 pp. | 5 figures| September 2012
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Coding Places

Software Practice in a South American City


Software development would seem to be a quintessential example of today’s Internet-enabled “knowledge work”--a global profession not bound by the constraints of geography. In Coding Places, Yuri Takhteyev looks at the work of software developers who inhabit two contexts: a geographical area--in this case, greater Rio de Janeiro--and a “world of practice,” a global system of activities linked by shared meanings and joint practice. The work of the Brazilian developers, Takhteyev discovers, reveals a paradox of the world of software: it is both diffuse and sharply centralized. The world of software revolves around a handful of places--in particular, the San Francisco Bay area--that exercise substantial control over both the material and cultural elements of software production. Takhteyev shows how in this context Brazilian software developers work to find their place in the world of software and to bring its benefits to their city.

Takhteyev’s study closely examines Lua, an open source programming language developed in Rio but used in such internationally popular products as World of Warcraft and Angry Birds. He shows that Lua had to be separated from its local origins on the periphery in order to achieve success abroad. The developers, Portuguese speakers, used English in much of their work on Lua. By bringing to light the work that peripheral practitioners must do to give software its seeming universality, Takhteyev offers a revealing perspective on the not-so-flat world of globalization.

About the Author

Yuri Takhteyev is Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Information and the Institute of Communication, Culture, and Information Technology at the University of Toronto. Takhteyev, who grew up in the Soviet Union, worked in Silicon Valley before he went to Brazil to study the software industry there.

Table of Contents

  • Coding Places
  • Acting with Technology
  • Bonnie Nardi, Victor Kaptelinin, and Kirsten Foot, editors
  • Tracing Genres through Organizations: A Sociocultural Approach to Information Design,
  • Clay Spinuzzi, 2003
  • Activity-Centered Design: An Ecological Approach to Designing Smart Tools and Usable Systems,
  • Geri Gay and Helene Hembrooke, 2004
  • The Semiotic Engineering of Human Computer Interaction,
  • Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza, 2005
  • Group Cognition: Computer Support for Building Collaborative Knowledge,
  • Gerry Stahl, 2006
  • Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design,
  • Victor Kaptelinin and Bonnie A. Nardi, 2006
  • Web Campaigning,
  • Kirsten A. Foot and Steven M. Schneider, 2006
  • Scientific Collaboration on the Internet,
  • Gary M. Olson, Ann Zimmerman, and Nathan Bos, editors, 2008
  • Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design,
  • Victor Kaptelinin and Bonnie A. Nardi, 2009
  • Digitally-Enabled Social Change: Online and Offline Activism in the Age of the Internet,
  • Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport, 2011
  • Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana,
  • Jenna Burrell, 2012
  • Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries,
  • Gina Neff, 2012
  • Car Crashes without Cars: Simulation Technology and Organizational Change in Automotive Engineering,
  • Paul M. Leonardi, 2012
  • Coding Places: Software Practice in a South American City,
  • Yuri Takhteyev, 2012
  • Coding Places
  • Software Practice in a South American City
  • Yuri Takhteyev
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by the MIT Press. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Takhteyev, Yuri, 1976– Coding places : software practice in a South American city / Yuri Takhteyev. p. cm. — (Acting with technology) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-01807-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Computer software—Development—Brazil. 2. Lua (Computer program language) 3. Computer programming—Brazil. 4. Globalization. I. Title. QA76.76.D47T345 2012 005.100981—dc23 2012007128
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • To the memory of Vladimir Takhteyev (1953–2011) and to Dimitri (b. 2012)
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • ix
  • A Note on Translation, Quoting, and Pseudonyms xiii
  • 0 The Wrong Place 1
  • 1 Global Worlds of Practice 21
  • 2 The Global Tongue 47
  • 3 Nerds from the Baixada and Other Places 71
  • 4 Software Brasileiro 93
  • 5 Downtown Professionals 115
  • 6 Porting Lua 135
  • 7 Fast and Patriotic 159
  • 8 Dreams of a Culture Farmer 179
  • 9 Conclusion 205
  • Notes 217
  • References 231
  • Index
  • 241


“By examining software development in the ‘wrong place’ of Rio de Janeiro, Yuri Takhteyev shows us with vivid accounts and clear narrative how individuals who work far from the geographic hubs of their field create local connections and shape local environments even as they embrace global culture and pursue global dreams for themselves and their locations. The concept of a ‘wrong place’ proves an immediately beguiling and completely original approach for understanding work in the global setting; Takhteyev’s choice of Rio, in particular, is nothing short of brilliant.”
--Diane Bailey, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin"—
Coding Places opens the black box of ‘globalization’ to show us the pieces involved in that process—people, technical objects, government agencies, universities, businesses—in intimate detail: how they work, what they need to survive, what they furnish to others, the network of their connections, conflicts, and accommodations. We see the whole machine in operation: how the many possible inputs generate a variety of outputs, technically and organizationally. And we learn a way of thinking that we can apply to the arts, science, or business, to any kind of activity with worldwide extension and ramifications. It does all this with a depth of vision and a clarity in telling the story seldom found in the social sciences. “
--Howard S. Becker, author of Outsiders and Art Worlds"—
“Software development is no longer limited geographically but is expanding to different regions of the world. Yuri Takhteyev has produced an insightful work that provides a critical account of software developers and their role in the global knowledge economy. This is a fascinating story of knowledge workers in a region that has the potential to become the next Silicon Valley.”
--Alladi Venkatesh, Professor and Associate Director, Center for Research on Information Technology, University of California, Irvine"—


Co-Winner, 2013 American Sociological Association Section on Communication and Information Technologies (CITASA) Book Award.