Charlton D. McIlwain: Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter (2020)
Filed under book | Tags: · activism, afronet, black culture, computing, history of computing, history of technology, internet, race, racism, technology
“Activists, pundits, politicians, and the press frequently proclaim today’s digitally mediated racial justice activism the new civil rights movement. As Charlton D. McIlwain shows in this book, the story of racial justice movement organizing online is much longer and varied than most people know. In fact, it spans nearly five decades and involves a varied group of engineers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, journalists, and activists. But this is a history that is virtually unknown even in our current age of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Black Lives Matter.
Beginning with the simultaneous rise of civil rights and computer revolutions in the 1960s, McIlwain, for the first time, chronicles the long relationship between African Americans, computing technology, and the Internet. In turn, he argues that the forgotten figures who worked to make black politics central to the Internet’s birth and evolution paved the way for today’s explosion of racial justice activism. From the 1960s to present, the book examines how computing technology has been used to neutralize the threat that black people pose to the existing racial order, but also how black people seized these new computing tools to build community, wealth, and wage a war for racial justice.
Through archival sources and the voices of many of those who lived and made this history, Black Software centralizes African Americans’ role in the Internet’s creation and evolution, illuminating both the limits and possibilities for using digital technology to push for racial justice in the United States and across the globe.”
Publisher Oxford University Press, 2020
ISBN 9780190863845, 0190863846
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Clarence G. Williams: Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999 (2001)
Filed under book | Tags: · black culture, history of technology, interview, technology
“This book grew out of the Blacks at MIT History Project, whose mission is to document the black presence at MIT. The main body of the text consists of transcripts of more than seventy-five oral history interviews, in which the interviewees assess their MIT experience and reflect on the role of blacks at MIT and beyond. Although most of the interviewees are present or former students, black faculty, administrators, and staff are also represented, as are nonblack faculty and administrators who have had an impact on blacks at MIT. The interviewees were selected with an eye to presenting the broadest range of issues and personalities, as well as a representative cross section by time period and category.
Each interviewee was asked to discuss family background; education; role models and mentors; experiences of racism and race-related issues; choice of field and career; goals; adjustment to the MIT environment; best and worst MIT experiences; experience with MIT support services; relationships with MIT students, faculty, and staff; advice to present or potential MIT students; and advice to the MIT administration. A recurrent theme is that MIT’s rigorous teaching instills the confidence to deal with just about any hurdle in professional life, and that an MIT degree opens many doors and supplies instant credibility.
Each interview includes biographical notes and pictures. The book also includes a general introduction, a glossary, and appendixes describing the project’s methodology.”
Publisher MIT Press, 2001
ISBN 026223212X, 9780262232128
Review: Nancy-Elizabeth Fitch (Oral History Review, 2005).
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Marie Hicks: Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (2017)
Filed under book | Tags: · computing, history of computing, history of technology, technology, united kingdom, women
“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
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).
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