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

Janet Abbate abbate at vt.edu
Sat Aug 18 14:20:44 PDT 2018


This is a different angle on the "conception of the user," but Petrick’s book Making Computers Accessible makes the point that early computer users were assumed to be able-bodied, until disability activists demanded accessible technology. I don’t have the book handy, but maybe a chapter could be excerpted for undergrads. 

Dr. Janet Abbate
Professor, Science, Technology and Society
Virginia Tech
Co-director, VT National Capital Region STS program
liberalarts.vt.edu/sts
www.facebook.com/VirginiaTechSTS






> On Aug 17, 2018, at 8:17 PM, Kevin Driscoll <kdriscoll at alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> 
> 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 <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 <mailto: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 <http://www.shreeharshkelkar.net/>_______________________________________________
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