Archive for January, 2014

Image credit: Nathan Ensmenger.

Nobro Computing

In a blog-post on Difference Engines week ago, Lilly Irani wrote: By analogy, maybe there’s a feminist STS project that could take similar form [to the People of Color in European Art History Tumblr that she'd been reading] . Women in computing advocates (e.g. Anita Borg Institute) often use the presence of women in computing history as the exception that proves the possibility. I’ve been frustrated for a while about the way well-meaning computing institutions deal with gender in computing by simply attempting to include women (future, present, and past) in the already gendered mold of the contemporary computer programmer. Here’s […]

under the Darjeeling fog

under the Darjeeling fog

Here’s an initial effort to add some content on food production to the blog. This post is a departure from my usual myco-centrism. I visited the tea plantation in 2012 (I was also researching wild mushroom production in the region). This was written for a small newspaper in Kolkata, but never saw the light of day.  So now you get to enjoy it!     As we descended the hill covered in waist-high shrubs, factory workers wasted no time in questioning our motive. “Tea tourism,” we replied. We were, in fact, not only at the tea estate in the interest of learning […]

Actually, Alan Turing Did Not Invent the Computer

Actually, Alan Turing Did Not Invent the Computer

  That’s the bracing headline of Thomas Haigh’s article on Alan Turing that appears, appropriately enough, in the latest Communications of the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery, the premier organization of computer scientists). Since the article is under a paywall, I want to bring out some of its best points.  The first is that the pioneers of the then-emerging discipline of computer science did not want their science to be about building computers (which was seen as the task of electrical engineers), but rather about something more.  And therefore they  reached out into the past and extracted Turing’s first 1936 […]

What is performativity?  What is hegemony?

What is performativity? What is hegemony?

The concept of performativity in STS and the social studies of finance is a powerful one but I’ve also found it problematic, in at least one big way, which is establishing its validity, which has always seemed difficult to me.  Sometimes it just seems like a new term for good, old-fashioned theories of constructivism1.   At other times, itseems like a powerful idea but finding data that demonstrates that something is “performed” seems really, really difficult. For example, Donald Mackenzie’s case for the performativity of the BSM equation [pdf] consists of showing that (a) it was not a good predictor […]