Cultures of Computing

Photo of four women holding computer boards.

U.S. Army Photo, number 163-12-62. Left: Patsy Simmers, holding ENIAC board Next: Mrs. Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board Next: Mrs. Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board Right: Mrs. Norma Stec, holding BRLESC-I board. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army. Source: Muuss, Mike. "Historic Computer Images.")

Instructor(s)

MIT Course Number

21A.350J / STS.086J / WGS.484J

As Taught In

Fall 2011

Level

Undergraduate

Cite This Course

Course Features

Course Description

This course examines computers anthropologically, as artifacts revealing the social orders and cultural practices that create them. Students read classic texts in computer science along with cultural analyses of computing history and contemporary configurations. It explores the history of automata, automation and capitalist manufacturing; cybernetics and WWII operations research; artificial intelligence and gendered subjectivity; robots, cyborgs, and artificial life; creation and commoditization of the personal computer; the growth of the Internet as a military, academic, and commercial project; hackers and gamers; technobodies and virtual sociality. Emphasis is placed on how ideas about gender and other social differences shape labor practices, models of cognition, hacking culture, and social media.

Archived Versions

Helmreich, Stefan. 21A.350J Cultures of Computing, Fall 2011. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/anthropology/21a-350j-cultures-of-computing-fall-2011 (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA


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