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

Kevin Driscoll kdriscoll at alum.mit.edu
Fri Aug 17 17:17:46 PDT 2018


Hi Shreeharsh,

In the past, I have assigned selections from "Computer" for a similar
purpose. You might find passages that offer precisely the comparison you
wish to make:
- Campbell-Kelly, Martin, William Aspray, Nathan Ensmenger, and Jeffrey R
Yost. Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 2018.

This year, I am particularly excited to try a new reading in my media
history course:
- Petrick, E. “Imagining the Personal Computer: Conceptualizations of the
Homebrew Computer Club 1975-1977.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
39, no. 4 (October 2017): 27-39. https://doi.org/10.1109/MAHC.2018.1221045.

Not only does Petrick's paper dig into the particular concerns of early
enthusiasts, but it lends itself well to the classroom. The Homebrew
newsletters are widely available on the web so you can ask students to
trace the citations in the paper back to their primary sources. I'm looking
forward to hearing what undergrads think about these unusual documents.

Best of luck!
Kevin Driscoll


On Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 11:38 AM Shreeharsh Kelkar <shreeharsh at gmail.com>
wrote:

> 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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