Eglė Rindzevičiūtė: The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World (2016)

28 January 2021, dusan

“In The Power of Systems, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė introduces readers to one of the best-kept secrets of the Cold War: the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), an international think tank established by the U.S. and Soviet governments to advance scientific collaboration. From 1972 until the late 1980s IIASA in Austria was one of the very few permanent platforms where policy scientists from both sides of the Cold War divide could work together to articulate and solve world problems. This think tank was a rare zone of freedom, communication, and negotiation, where leading Soviet scientists could try out their innovative ideas, benefit from access to Western literature, and develop social networks, thus paving the way for some of the key science and policy breakthroughs of the twentieth century.

Ambitious diplomatic, scientific, and organizational strategies were employed to make this arena for cooperation work for global change. Under the umbrella of the systems approach, East-West scientists co-produced computer simulations of the long-term world future and the anthropogenic impact on the environment, using global modeling to explore the possible effects of climate change and nuclear winter. Their concern with global issues also became a vehicle for transformation inside the Soviet Union. The book shows how computer modeling, cybernetics, and the systems approach challenged Soviet governance by undermining the linear notions of control on which Soviet governance was based and creating new objects and techniques of government.”

Publisher Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2016
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License
ISBN 9781501703188, 1501703188
xi+292 pages

Reviews: Roundtable: Barbara Czarniawska, Jenny Andersson, Claudia Aradau, Paul Rubinson, author’s response (H-Diplo, 2019), Kristine C. Harper (Isis, 2018), Benjamin Peters (Slavic Review, 2019), Gerald Easter (American Historical Review, 2018), Jeanne Morefield (J History of Ideas, 2020), Laurent Coumel (Cahiers du monde russe, 2018, FR), Una Bergmane (Lithuanian Historical Studies, 2018), Christian Dayé (Serendipities, 2018).

Publisher, (2)

PDF (19 MB)

Eric Snodgrass: Executions: Power and Expression in Networked and Computational Media (2017)

15 August 2017, dusan

“This book looks at questions of power and expression as they are composed in various ways within networked and computationally-informed situations of the present. Drawing from the term as it is originally invoked in practices of computing, the research puts forward execution as a central conceptual framework for its investigations. In a computer program, a program becomes executable when it is able to execute a set of procedures within a designated set of relations and affordances. Similarly, the concept of execution developed here looks at the ongoing negotiations of various formative relations and affordances (technical, cultural, material, political) in practices of execution, describing certain notable techniques applied towards the task of making things executable.

The examples looked at include several dominant media and technology practices of the present, as well as several alternative practices that point to other possible modes of execution. In doing so, the research highlights certain politically-orientated issues involved in questions of execution, working to further develop specific approaches aimed at describing, questioning and intervening into practices of execution as they occur in the world.”

Doctoral Dissertation in Media and Communication Studies
Publisher Malmö University, Malmö, 2017
New Media, Public Spheres and Forms of Expression series, 11
Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 International
ISBN 9789171045065
332 pages
via fcr



Matthew Fuller: How To Be a Geek: Essays on the Culture of Software (2017)

29 June 2017, dusan

“Computer software and its structures, devices and processes are woven into our everyday life. Their significance is not just technical: the algorithms, programming languages, abstractions and metadata that millions of people rely on every day have far-reaching implications for the way we understand the underlying dynamics of contemporary societies.

In this innovative new book, software studies theorist Matthew Fuller examines how the introduction and expansion of computational systems into areas ranging from urban planning and state surveillance to games and voting systems are transforming our understanding of politics, culture and aesthetics in the twenty-first century. Combining historical insight and a deep understanding of the technology powering modern software systems with a powerful critical perspective, this book opens up new ways of understanding the fundamental infrastructures of contemporary life, economies, entertainment and warfare.

In so doing Fuller shows that everyone must learn ‘how to be a geek’, as the seemingly opaque processes and structures of modern computer and software technology have a significance that no-one can afford to ignore. This powerful and engaging book will be of interest to everyone interested in a critical understanding of the political and cultural ramifications of digital media and computing in the modern world.”

Publisher Polity, 2017
ISBN 9781509517152, 1509517154
x+233 pages