In other words I'm dealing with "things" whose only reality
is convention. Conventions whose intrinsic non-reality is demonstrated
when they change over time, or depending on location, causing no end of
headaches for software maintainers.
I think classifying such things as instrinsically not-real misses something
important. Intangible, non-static, evolving things, can still be considered
"real". Historians deal with such "conventional" realities all the time.
The following quote on "objects" of discourse brings such "contextual"
existence to the fore:
The conditions necessary for the appearance of an object of discourse,
the historical conditions required if one is to 'say anything' about it,
and if several people are to say different things about it, the conditions
necessary if it is to exist in relation to other objects, if it is to
establish with them relations of resemblance, proximity, distance,
difference, transformation - as we can see, these conditions are many
and imposing. Which means that one cannot speak of [just]
anything at any time; it is not easy to say something new; it is not
enough for us to open our eyes, to pay attention, or to be aware, for
new objects suddenly to light up and emerge out of the ground. ... the
object does not await in limbo the order that will free it and enable it
it to become embodied in a visible and prolix objectivity; it does not
pre-exist itself, held back by some obstacle at the first edges of
light. It exists under the positive conditions of a complex group of
- Michel Foucalt (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge & the discourse on