Filed under book | Tags: · algorithm, art history, big data, computing, history of technology, language, logic, programming, software, software art, software studies, translation
“In The Software Arts, Warren Sack offers an alternative history of computing that places the arts at the very center of software’s evolution. Tracing the origins of software to eighteenth-century French encyclopedists’ step-by-step descriptions of how things were made in the workshops of artists and artisans, Sack shows that programming languages are the offspring of an effort to describe the mechanical arts in the language of the liberal arts.
Sack offers a reading of the texts of computing—code, algorithms, and technical papers—that emphasizes continuity between prose and programs. He translates concepts and categories from the liberal and mechanical arts—including logic, rhetoric, grammar, learning, algorithm, language, and simulation—into terms of computer science and then considers their further translation into popular culture, where they circulate as forms of digital life. He considers, among other topics, the “arithmetization” of knowledge that presaged digitization; today’s multitude of logics; the history of demonstration, from deduction to newer forms of persuasion; and the post-Chomsky absence of meaning in grammar. With The Software Arts, Sack invites artists and humanists to see how their ideas are at the root of software and invites computer scientists to envision themselves as artists and humanists.”
Publisher MIT Press, 2019
ISBN 9780262039703, 0262039702
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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 people, 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
Video interview with author (Morning Joe, MSNBC, 2019).
Podcast interview with author (The Human and the Machine, 2019).
Reviews: Lori Emerson (LA Review of Books, 2021), Brian Alleyne (Computational Culture, 2021).
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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 people, 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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