anthr_of_comp5 - 21A.350 SP.484J STS.086 The Anthropology...

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21A.350 / SP.484J / STS.086 The Anthropology of Computing Fall 2004 MIT THE COLD WAR: CODING AND CLOSING THE WORLD Lecture 5. October 18 Edwards , Paul. 1996. The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge: MIT Press, Chapters 1-2, 4-5, 8-9 (pp. 1-73, 113- 173, 239-301). “This book is about computers, as machines and as metaphors, in the politics and culture of Cold War America. …Computers made the closed world work simultaneously as technology, as political system, and as ideological mirage” (p. 1). PRIMARILY CH 1 2 4 in order to understand this, we have to have some definitions: COMPUTERS: p. 27: “ tools or machines, technical levers usefully interposed between practical problems and their solutions. But two essential features distinguish computers from all other machines (a) their ability to store and execute programs that carry out conditional branching and (b) their ability to manipulate any kind of symbolic information at all.” (they can REPRESENT things) CLOSED WORLD (p. 12): “A ‘closed world’ is a radically bounded scene of conflict, an inescapably self- referential space where every thought, word, and action is ultimately directed back toward a central struggle” (e.g. The Death Star, Truman Show, Dark City, The Matrix , The Cold War: HOW?) CLOSED WORLD DISCOURSE (p. 15) language, worldview, practices: and what is a discourse ? (form of life: p. 38) techniques drawn from engineering and mathematics for modeling aspects of the world as closed systems technologies , especially the computer, that make systems analysis and central control practical on a very large scale practices of mathematical and computer simulation [e.g. IGLOO WHITE] experiences of grand-scale politics as rule-governed and manipulable (THE COLD WAR) fictions, fantasies, and ideologies , including such visions as global mastery through air power and nuclear weapons language/metaphors of systems, gaming, and abstract communication and information
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anthr_of_comp5 - 21A.350 SP.484J STS.086 The Anthropology...

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