The Multiple Meanings of a Flowchart

July 31, 2016     #publications

From the very earliest days of electronic computing, flowcharts have been used to represent the conceptual structure of complex software systems. In much of the literature on software development, the flowchart serves as the central design document around which systems analysts, computer programmers, and end users communicate, negotiate, and represent complexity. And yet the meaning of any particular flowchart was often highly contested, and the apparent specificity of such design documents rarely reflected reality. Flowcharts were rarely “true, ” but they were nevertheless useful. In the latest issue of the journal Information & Culture, I explore the “Multiple Meanings of the Flowchart”.

For those of you without access to the Project Muse academic database, you can find an earlier draft version of the paper for free online here.

History of Computer Dating

July 23, 2016     #media

National Geographic has produced an excellent series on the history of sex and sexuality. As part of that series, they ran an episode on sex and technology. If you watch closely, you can see me talking about the history of computer dating.

I first developed this history for a lectured called “Love and Sprockets” that I developed for my I202: Introduction to Social Informatics course. It turns out IU holds a special place in this history.

University Trustee Teaching Award

April 28, 2016     #teaching

I am pleased and honored to have been awarded the 2015-2016 Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award. Many thanks to my students, teaching assistants, and colleagues who helped make this possible!

SHIFT-CTRL at Stanford

April 20, 2016     #research #media

In early May I will speaking at the SHIFT-CTRL conference at Stanford University. The conference, which is being convened by Tom Mullaney and Ben Allen is aimed at exploring new directions in scholarship on computing and new media that “engages meaningfully with questions of gender, culture, language, ethnicity, and class.” The scholarly line-up that they have arranged is impressive. This is an exciting way to end the spring conference season. I will be presenting on my global environmental history of computing project.

The Dirty Bits Traveling Show

April 11, 2016     #research #media

I have been traveling and talking about my new environmental history of computing project a fair bit recently. I am particularly excited about my forthcoming talk at the University of Nevada, Reno. Among other things, Nevada is the home of the Chemetall Foote lithium mine and the still-under-contruction Tesla Gigafactory. The geo-politics of lithium carbonate (as well as of other mineral central to the digital economy) is one of the topics covered in the Dirty Bits book.