Maze-Solving Machine. Diagram. 1952. Claude E. Shannon. From the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics.

Computing and Historiography, Part 1

sigcis debate origins email evgeny morozov Shiva Ayyadurai

How does the work of building computers relate to the writing of computing history? At first glance, this seems an easy enough thing to describe: Scientists, engineers, and industries invent or innovate while historians and other observers report on these events. This is a more or less linear model of cause and effect, where work with computers is an ostensible “cause” or “source” for writing computer history. But I think this model is so reductive as to be false. It seems to me that the reception or interpretation of computational history is itself a participant in the shaping and consolidation of computational innovation. Recognizing this relation has important consequences for a number of issues in ‘informatics proper’ (design and protection of intellectual property, raising capital, and workplace diversity are three areas I will touch on in coming posts) as well those societies that would like to identify social well being with technological innovation.

Bernard Stiegler, Mark Hansen, and WJT Mitchell on Friedrich Kittler (Episode 7)

Bernard Stiegler

Another Cultural Technologies Bootleg: This episode features a chat among French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, media theorist Mark B. N. Hansen, and literary critic W. J. T. Mitchell on the work of German media theorist Friedrich Kittler, following which Stiegler muses about time, technology, love, and death in the age of electronic media. And Hansen chimes in about Amazon algorithms stalking his desires. (Original recording took place in Mark Hansen's and W. J. T. Mitchell's 2004 media theory course at the University of Chicago.)


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