I’ve been noticing a new genre of article about software popping up here and there over the past few years. I wouldn’t say it’s unavoidable or rampant but it does creep up once in a while when announcements come out about support for a particular piece of application software being discontinued or no longer being sold: the software eulogy.
Here are just three recent examples:
- Meyer, R. (2017, October 6). AIM Was Perfect, and Now It Will Die. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/aim-was-perfect-soon-it-will-be-dead/542322/
- Gibbs, S. (2017, July 24). Microsoft Paint to be killed off after 32 years. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/24/microsoft-paint-kill-off-after-32-years-graphics-editing-program
… and the related page inviting Guardian readers to “Share your Microsoft Paint memories and creations.” The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/24/share-your-microsoft-paint-memories-and-creations
- Barrett, Brian. (2017, July 25). Adobe Finally Kills Flash Dead. WIRED. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/adobe-finally-kills-flash-dead/
I initially hesitated to use the term ‘eulogy’ because, as in all the cases above, the software is still ‘alive’. But apparently it is still considered eulogizing if it involves praising the person or thing. I guess in some cases the articles aren’t quite ‘praising’ so… What is of interest to me here is rather the way in which biographical tropes around death are used to describe software. It raises an interesting question around what kinds of things can be referred to as dying or ‘killed’ as implying that they require ‘care’ prior to such an event taking place.