Researcher reveals how “Computer Geeks” replaced “Computer Girls” | The Clayman Institute for Gender Research


The earliest computer programmers were women and the programming field was once stereotyped as female

One of the best books I’ve read about the transition from computing as a female- to male-dominanted area of work is Ensmenger’s The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise.

It’s a remarkable book that details – with precision – how labour changes combined with new understandings of what ‘goes into’ computer work led to the defeminization of not just the people working on computers but the very tropes and language associated with the same kind(s) of work. Highly, highly recommended.


Fuck them is what I say. I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead. I won’t give a shit.

  • Renowned children’s book author MAURICE SENDAK, telling us how he really feels, on The Colbert Report. (via inothernews)

I like e-books for casual reading, like fiction or autobiographies. If it’s a book I want to reference? It absolutely has to bre paper.


…nowhere does he raise the possibility that feedback loops produced by digital technologies might also be harming governance. Consider a 2011 survey by a British insurance company in which 11 percent of respondents claimed to have seen an incident but chose not to report it, worried that higher crime statistics for their neighborhood would significantly reduce the value of their properties. In this case, the quality of future data is intricately dependent on how much of the current data is disclosed; unconditional “openness” is the wrong move here—precisely because of feedback loops.

I would note that this failure to appreciate the social implications of novel monitoring technologies is something that is drastically unappreciated by public policy planners.


A Comment on “You Can’t Say that On the Internet”

In his most recent op-ed, Morozov offers a good, if common, argument. Specifically, he argues that:

Quaint prudishness, excessive enforcement of copyright, unneeded damage to our reputations: algorithmic gatekeeping is exacting a high toll on our public life. Instead of treating algorithms as a natural, objective reflection of reality, we must take them apart and closely examine each line of code.

While I tend to agree with him, it’s important to recognize the actual value of what he’s written: he’s made rapidly accessible (though, with less subtly) what ethicists and scholars of contemporary digital technology have been writing about for over a decade. Read what he’s written – it’s good – but rather than stopping there go on to read Winner’s The Whale and the Reactor, sections from DeNardis’ excellent Opening Standards, and Lessig’s Code. In essence, it’s not that Morozov’s written anything badly, but what he’s written just touches the tip of the iceberg.


Why Papers Books Beat iBooks

Dieter Bohn, over at The Verge, has a masterful analysis of paper-based books versus Apple iBooks (and eBooks in general). A few choice quotations are below, but you should really just take a few minutes of your day and go read the whole article.

 The list of “specs” for your standard paper book gets surprisingly long when you expand your definition of technology to include elements that don’t require a computer chip.

  • Readable with any form of light
  • Very high contrast display
  • Requires no battery power
  • Depending on model, lasts anywhere from five to five thousand years or more
  • Immersive and non-distracting user interface
  • Offers a spatial layout for immediate access to random information
  • Conforms to the standardized “page number” spec for easy reference
  • Supports direct interaction via pen or highlighter
  • DRM-free for easy lending and resale
  • Standards-based system not controlled by any single corporation or entity
  • Crash-proof and immune to viruses (though vulnerable to some worms)
  • Easy to learn user-interface consistent across most manufacturers
  • Supports very large number of colors and also black and white images
  • Compatible with a wide variety of note taking systems

I understand that free and open access to paper books isn’t available everywhere, that various hegemonies have stifled and do stifle dissent. Books can be burned, banned, and censored. But if we are going to be putting our collective knowledge into digital formats with DRM, we are adding another layer of possible censorship on top of the layers of control we already contend with. This isn’t (entirely) paranoia that Apple or Amazon will control access to human knowledge, it’s also a practical concern founded in the experience of being blocked by poorly designed DRM.


The thousand year view is simple: if you’re going to commit knowledge to writing in some form, you need to ensure that it will exist and be readable in a thousand years. I can tell you that I’ve personally gained insight and understanding about our world by reading a lightly-distributed instruction manual for rural, parish priests in England — written in the fourteenth century. Will an independently-created iBook 2 textbook be around in the thirty first century?