R1A-004 | CCN: 31033

The Craft of Writing

Critical Histories of Computing

Instructor: Nicholaus Gutierrez & Bruno Anaya Ortiz

4 Units

Tu/Th 5:00PM-6:30PM Dwinelle 215

The standard narrative of digital technologies tends to be aspirational: they facilitate access to information, find new efficiencies that overturn older institutions--in short, they change the world, usually for the better. But is the reality of this new technological world absolutely positive, or is there room for critique?

In this course, we will practice the skills of college level reading and writing through a critical investigation of the seminal moments and objects in the history of computing, from cybernetics to social media. Specifically, we will ask: Is there a relationship between computers and political or social control? How do representations of race, class and gender come to be configured and re-configured in the age of computers? Do commercial search engines and big data collection create harmful filter bubbles that polarize culture? What role does the everyday user of digital networks play in surveillance?

To answer these questions, we will read authors who question dominant narratives in the history of computing, and we will write and revise a series of papers in which you will interpret and evaluate their claims. This course satisfies the first half of the Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement.