The use of the word “social” in the context of information technology goes back to the very beginnings of cybernetics. It later pops up in the 1980s context of “groupware.” The recent materialist school of Friedrich Kittler and others dismissed the use of the word “social” as irrelevant fluff—what computers do is calculate, they do not interfere in human relations. Holistic hippies, on the other hand, have ignored this cynical machine knowledge and have advanced a positive, humanistic view that emphasizes computers as tools for personal liberation. This individualistic emphasis on interface design, usability, and so on was initially matched with an interest in the community aspect of computer networking. Before the “dot-com” venture capitalist takeover of the field in the second half of the 1990s, progressive computing was primarily seen as a tool for collaboration among people.
Monday, January 21st, 2013