The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America

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Edwards, Paul N. The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1996.

According to the rev. by G. Kester (q.v. this Category), one way to look at the development of computer technology sees the military tie-ins from the beginning as "nothing more than a historical accident." PNE strongly disagrees. In Kester's words, PNE argues "that the specific conditions of nuclear-era military R&D (linked with cold war foreign policy) structured the direction of that development, and even the technological form of the computer itself" (Kester 33). Note very well ideological imperative of containment (of Communism under the Truman doctrine) and "the U.S. fantasy of a totally regulated 'electronic battlefield,' which was facilitated by the development of computerized 'command, control, and communication' systems in the military" (Kester 34): the military 3 C's are also central for any study of computers and cybernetics. PEN uses positively the image of the cyborg (cf. D. Haraway, "Manifesto for Cyborgs," this Category) and discusses the films STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE and BLADE RUNNER (q.v. under Drama), and William Gibson's Neuromancer" (listed under Fiction).


RDE, Title, 27Aug19