Hello !

I'm actually from a non-IT background but I am writing a paper on cyber crime from a legal perspective (basically is it possible to effectively legislate on this issue or not). I am personnally of the opinion that you cannot, so some kind of minimalist international recommendations is the best we can get. Anyway, I'm still at the beginning of my paper, and I really wanted to check with someone from an IT background whether my understanding of software and code is correct. Here is my paragraph:

"A software programme is composed of source code. The source code contains the commands which will instruct the software on how to execute a certain action in a computer system. Source code is therefore inherently neutral. The software will perform the functions contained in the source code. Consequently, the type of instruction laid out in the source code will determine the type functions the software is to perform."

Is this correct or is this complete rubbish that I've just made up? In any case, this is how I understand software to be. I would appreciate any input or correction or just general pointing in the right direction. I basically didn't want to cut and paste something off the net, so I tried to explain it myself. Right, I didn't mean to banter on. Thank you for any comments anyone might have.

Hey there, I think you're on the right track. The one thing I would point out is that code (source code) not only determines what the software does, in some cases it also determines HOW it does it. Hence a piece of software can be better than another, to be a bit more specific, a website can be safer than another, because of HOW it handles the personal data of others.

I guess what that means is that code cannot always be neutral, it depends on what it is for. Infact I don't think it can be neutral at all, because the code reflects the way of thinking of whoever's writing it, so it is at the very least partial.

I hope I haven't confused you, I would say it's a good idea to get more specific about the type of software you mean, and also to differentiate "software" from "programs" in your mind. Techies most often use the term interchangeably, but in my experience it can help to draw some sort of line between them. That might just be though.

Also you should definitely check out some of the blogs that are on daniweb by people like happygeek. There's bound to be some relevant articles.

Hope that helps.

Excellent ! Thank you so very much for your reply. I will certainly have a look at the blogs around here and am definitely taking your comments about neutrality into account, as well as the suggestion on software vs program. That certainly helps me a lot. Thanks again, I much appreciate :)

No problem mate. ;o)