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Technology and Culture

Fred Turner
Over the last ten years, technologists, pundits, and even President Obama have proposed that something called the "Maker movement" is transforming global manufacturing. But what exactly is this movement? Where did it come from? And what kind of world do its leaders want us to make? This paper examines a half dozen of the movement's foundational texts in order to surface their visions of a good society. It then traces the roots of those visions back to MIT and the San Francisco Bay Area tech world, and through them, to deep streams of early American thought...
2018: Technology and Culture
Janet Abbate
In the 2010s, claims that learning to program would bring economic success for disadvantaged groups became ubiquitous in American public discourse. Although the coding movement presented itself as radically new, it recapitulated earlier framings of computing skill as a mechanism for empowerment. Using examples from the early history of computing and the twenty-first-century coding movement, I show how programming skill has been variously constructed as a shift of power from management to labor, a means of economic uplift for minorities, or a thinking tool for children...
2018: Technology and Culture
Eden Medina
As computer historians extend the bounds of what constitutes computer history, they must also take care not to write histories that overstate the importance of these technologies. "Decentering" the computer in computer history provides a way for historians to study the role of computers in more domains without exaggerating their importance. Here I illustrate how the use of a computer system for forensic identification formed part of Chile's complicated history of truth, justice, and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship...
2018: Technology and Culture
Honghong Tinn
This article traces the process in which Taiwanese economic bureaucrats, a Cornell economics professor, and pioneering computer users worked together to visualize, represent, and make sense of economic activities in Taiwan through inter-industry input-output tables. The article highlights three ways in which the production of economic knowledge was contingent on computer power and geopolitics. First, it unpacks the participation of Taiwanese historical actors at the frontlines of Cold War economic competition between Taiwan and China...
2018: Technology and Culture
Thomas S Mullaney
Since the late 1980s, computers throughout the Sinophone world have featured QWERTY keyboards, employing input techniques that rely upon the Latin alphabet. In this article, I argue that historians of modern China and modern information technology alike have profoundly misunderstood China's QWERTY keyboard and oversimplified the history of China's engagement with the Latin alphabet during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Scholars have been too quick to fixate on the narrower issue of phoneticization: that is, of attempts to re-inscribe Chinese by creating Latin alphabet-based writing systems that rewire the circuitry of Chinese linguistic signification with the goal of bypassing (and ultimately abolishing) Chinese characters altogether...
2018: Technology and Culture
Nathan Ensmenger
From Charles Babbage's Difference Engine (a product of an increasingly global British maritime empire) to Herman Hollerith's tabulating machine (designed to solve the problem of "seeing like a state" in the newly trans-continental American Republic) to the emergence of the modern petrochemical industry, information technologies have always been closely associated with the human desire to understand and manipulate their physical environment. More recently, humankind has started to realize the environmental impacts of information technology, including not only the toxic byproducts associated with their production, but also the polluting effects of the massive amounts of energy and water required by data centers at Google and Facebook (whose physicality is conveniently and deliberately camouflaged behind the disembodied, ethereal "cloud")...
2018: Technology and Culture
Thomas S Mullaney
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2018: Technology and Culture
(no author information available yet)
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2018: Technology and Culture
Luminita Gatejel
This article deals with the first regulation project in the Danube Delta conducted by the European Commission of the Danube (ECD), one of the first international organizations in Europe. It looks at the ECD as a collective actor that planned and oversaw an infrastructural project under the auspices of the European Great Powers. In the name of free trade, the commissioners were able to overcome imperial rivalries and foster cooperation between diplomats and technical experts, thus shaping the collective identity of the commission...
2018: Technology and Culture
Bradley Fidler, Andrew L Russell
Popular and scholarly histories of computer networking often focus on technical innovation and the social impact of those innovations. These histories are marked by a contradiction, namely, failing to explain the existence of the infrastructure that they must ultimately use as evidence for the success of innovation, and the conduit of its social impact. The story of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Agency's (DARPA's) Arpanet, and the role of both in the invention of the modern Internet, is a central archetype of this genre...
2018: Technology and Culture
Sarah Mittlefehldt
In the 1980s, engineers developed new ways to use one of humanity's oldest fuel sources-wood-to create electrical power. This article uses envirotechnical analysis to examine the development of a wood-burning power plant in Flint, Michigan, and argues that when public officials began working with major energy corporations to build industrial biomass facilities in the 1980s and 1990s, new energy technologies designed to run on renewable fuels became part of an entrenched fossil fuel-based power structure that maintained deep historical inequalities...
2018: Technology and Culture
Simon Zagorski-Thomas
In 1969 Miles Davis started to use the credit "Directions in Music by Miles Davis" on his record sleeves as a statement asserting his creative control of the recording process. This article develops the idea of using the ecological approach to perception and embodied cognition to provide a psychological/cognitive basis for an Actor Network Theory (and to a lesser extent Social Construction of Technology) analysis for the collaborative creative and technological network which came together for the making of Miles Davis' 1969 album, Bitches Brew...
2018: Technology and Culture
Grant Olwage
This article offers an historical account of Paul Robeson's appropriation of electroacoustic technologies, which he encountered in the recording studio, film sound stage, and radio work, for use in song recital on the concert stage. Attending to the ways in which technologically-engaged musicians like Robeson employed emergent sound technologies in concert performance in the first half of the twentieth century, it thus supplements the history of sound technologies, which has focused on recording and broadcasting...
2018: Technology and Culture
Katherine Anderson, Jan Hadlaw
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2018: Technology and Culture
Arnold Pacey
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2018: Technology and Culture
Jennifer Tucker, Glenn Adamson, Jonathan S Ferguson, Josh Garrett-Davis, Erik Goldstein, Ashley Hlebinsky, David D Miller, Susanne Slavick
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
2018: Technology and Culture
Ian Johnson
Seeking to defend the new Soviet Union with a devastated economic base and a vast technical gap with the West, Soviet military planners sought in new technology and the language of science the possibility of self-defense. Within that context, a group of young officers emerged as military futurists. Specifically, they theorized that technology was the decisive factor in war, and that technology had changed so fundamentally after 1918 that the operational lessons of the First World War were limited in usefulness...
2018: Technology and Culture
Giacomo Parrinello
Fossil fuels, more than water, are immediately associated with the industrial energy transition. Preindustrial energy sources, however, continued to play a role in industrial energy regimes. This was the case in the industrializing Po Valley, where water power remained crucial until the 1960s. The article analyzes the ways in which the technological and spatial features of mechanical hydropower and hydroelectricity combined with the spatial and environmental features of the Po watershed, as well as the different envirotechnical regimes associated with these configurations...
2018: Technology and Culture
Sean F Johnston
The term technological fix, coined by technologist/administrator Alvin Weinberg in 1965, vaunted engineering innovation as a generic tool for circumventing problems commonly conceived as social, political, or cultural. A longtime Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, government consultant, and essayist, Weinberg also popularized the term big science to describe national goals and the competitive funding environment after the Second World War. Big science reoriented towards technological fixes, he argued, could provide a new "Apollo project" to address social problems of the future...
2018: Technology and Culture
Dorthe Gert Simonsen
In this article, I explore the formation of airspace in Britain from 1910 to 1913. The technology of flight challenged the "flat discourse" of nationalized geography, drawing up instead a volumetric space in the sky as airplanes flew from the Continent to England. The drive to control aerial mobility and convert the sky into a sovereign territory was especially pronounced in Britain. But the challenge of creating a sovereign space out of mobile and transparent air was an intricate problem both in legal and practical terms...
2018: Technology and Culture
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