Marie Hicks: Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (2017)

18 October 2018, dusan

“How Britain lost its early dominance in computing by systematically discriminating against its most qualified workers: women.

In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening thirty years holds lessons for all postindustrial superpowers. As Britain struggled to use technology to retain its global power, the nation’s inability to manage its technical labor force hobbled its transition into the information age.

In Programmed Inequality, Marie Hicks explores the story of labor feminization and gendered technocracy that undercut British efforts to computerize. That failure sprang from the government’s systematic neglect of its largest trained technical workforce simply because they were women. Women were a hidden engine of growth in high technology from World War II to the 1960s. As computing experienced a gender flip, becoming male-identified in the 1960s and 1970s, labor problems grew into structural ones and gender discrimination caused the nation’s largest computer user—the civil service and sprawling public sector—to make decisions that were disastrous for the British computer industry and the nation as a whole.

Drawing on recently opened government files, personal interviews, and the archives of major British computer companies, Programmed Inequality takes aim at the fiction of technological meritocracy. Hicks explains why, even today, possessing technical skill is not enough to ensure that women will rise to the top in science and technology fields. Programmed Inequality shows how the disappearance of women from the field had grave macroeconomic consequences for Britain, and why the United States risks repeating those errors in the twenty-first century.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2017
ISBN 9780262035545, 0262035545
x+342 pages

Reviews: Ksenia Tatarchenko (British Journal for the History of Science, 2017), Janet Abbate (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 2017), Lianne Gutcher (The National, 2017), Dominic Lenton (E&T, 2018), John Gilbey (Times Higher Education), Christophe J. Phillips (Isis, 2018), Mark J. Crowley (History, 2018), Megan Finn (Information & Culture, 2018).


HTML, PDF (removed on 2018-10-26 upon request from publisher)

Douglas R. Dechow, Daniele C. Struppa (eds.): Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson (2015)

29 September 2018, dusan

“This volume celebrates the life and work of Theodor Holm “Ted” Nelson, a pioneer and legendary figure from the history of early computing. Presenting contributions from renowned computer scientists and figures from the media industry, the book delves into hypertext, the docuverse, Xanadu, and other products of Ted Nelson’s unique mind.”

With contributions by Ed Subitzky, Ben Shneiderman, Alan Kay, Ken Knowlton, Brewster Kahle, Peter Schmideg and Laurie Spiegel, Andrew Pam, Dick Heiser, Belinda Barnet, Christine L. Borgman, Wendy Hall, Frode Hegland, Daniel Rosenberg, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Robert M. Akscyn, Henry Lowood, and Theodor Holm Nelson.

Publisher SpringerOpen, Cham, 2015
Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License
ISBN 9783319169248, 3319169246
xvi+150 pages

Conference (2014)


D. Fox Harrell: Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression (2013)

13 May 2018, dusan

“An argument that great expressive power of computational media arises from the construction of phantasms—blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination.

In Phantasmal Media, D. Fox Harrell considers the expressive power of computational media. He argues, forcefully and persuasively, that the great expressive potential of computational media comes from the ability to construct and reveal phantasms—blends of cultural ideas and sensory imagination. These ubiquitous and often-unseen phantasms—cognitive phenomena that include sense of self, metaphors, social categories, narrative, and poetic thinking—influence almost all our everyday experiences. Harrell offers an approach for understanding and designing computational systems that have the power to evoke these phantasms, paying special attention to the exposure of oppressive phantasms and the creation of empowering ones. He argues for the importance of cultural content, diverse worldviews, and social values in computing. The expressive power of phantasms is not purely aesthetic, he contends; phantasmal media can express and construct the types of meaning central to the human condition.

Harrell discusses, among other topics, the phantasm as an orienting perspective for developers; expressive epistemologies, or data structures based on subjective human worldviews; morphic semiotics (building on the computer scientist Joseph Goguen’s theory of algebraic semiotics); cultural phantasms that influence consensus and reveal other perspectives; computing systems based on cultural models; interaction and expression; and the ways that real-world information is mapped onto, and instantiated by, computational data structures.

The concept of phantasmal media, Harrell argues, offers new possibilities for using the computer to understand and improve the human condition through the human capacity to imagine.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2013
ISBN 9780262019330, 0262019337
xix+420 pages

Reviews: John Harwood (Artforum, 2014), Brian Reffin Smith (Leonardo, 2015).