[SIGCIS-Members] Undergraduate accessible reading on the evolution of the computer user?

Shreeharsh Kelkar shreeharsh at gmail.com
Fri Aug 17 08:38:18 PDT 2018


Dear all,

This fall, I'll be teaching a course on the history of computing. One of my
learning objectives for the class is to show students the how the
conception of the computer user varied with the social context of the cold
war labs where new ways of interacting with computers were invented (e.g.
IPTO versus SRI versus PARC).  I feel like this helps me bring out in class
(a) the importance of patronage (which students could care less but that's
another matter) and (b) the idea that early computer users (e.g of ARPANET)
were often elites and thereby were able to shape the technology quite
actively.

I wonder if anyone on this list has suggestions for an article (preferably
in a journal, but long-form journalism works too) that explores these
themes and which is written in a manner that's accessible to undergraduates.

Last year I assigned Bardini and Horvath's "The Social Construction of the
Personal Computer User"
<https://academic.oup.com/joc/article-abstract/45/3/40/4160211>--which, I
think, does a great job at bringing out these issues.  Unfortunately, the
text itself is quite abstruse and my sense is that students were left
shaking their heads.  (I paired it with a small section from Neal
Stephenson's "In the beginning was the command line ...")

Many thanks in advance,
Shreeharsh
_______________
Shreeharsh Kelkar
http://www.shreeharshkelkar.net
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