중앙데일리

Code of life

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Mar 15,2008
Code is crucial terminology in the following fields: communication and information technology. It means a promise to convert one signal series into another. For example, Morse code is a method for transmitting telegraphic information as a way to change letters into electrical signals. In this regard, “code” refers to the correspondence between letters and electrical signals.
Code is also a frequently used in computer technologies. The process of converting data into signals is referred to as “encoding.” It has other linguistic usages ― passwords, abbreviations, and agreements and rules in a specific society. There are other terminologies such as “bar code” and “dress code.” The word appears in a variety of titles for military spy operations, as shown in the name “code one.” When people are on the same wavelength, we say that they have “similar codes.” Code also refers to the sharing of unconscious and cultural experiences. In “The Culture Code,” cultural anthropologist Clotaire Rapaille revealed that “culture code is an unconscious meaning that people attach to a specific subject via their cultures.
In a word, code is a signal system designed for expressing and transmitting information, in which communication and information media are deeply rooted.
Media philosopher Vilem Flusser used the word as a principal concept in researching changes of awareness and culture in line with developments in media technologies. Against this backdrop, code is a system that manipulates and regulates symbols. Flusser proposed three codes from the anthropological perspective. They are drawings in the prehistoric times, text (letter code) in the historic times, and image (non-linguistic code) since the 1900s in the post-historic times. The plane drawings bestowed human beings the powers of symbolization; letter code contributed to the advent of modernization in the world; and the image code ranging from photos, film, TV, video and computer animation emancipated people from the text.
Code has emerged as a buzzword in society. It is used in a political context. I have a feeling that the word “code” has become a symbol of backwardness, for cliques. In the early period of the Roh Moo-hyun Administration, an article in The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom said, “President Roh is the world’s first President who understands that a web site is encoded with HTML.”
It is my sincere hope that those who criticized old political practices focusing on the combination of people’s “codes” will not appear as a new “code.” The vicious circle of the code should no longer exist in the future.

The writer is a deputy culture and sports editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Yang Sung-hee [shyang@joongang.co.kr]


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