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Computer Science - General Issues | Computers in Swedish Society - Documenting Early Use and Trends

Computers in Swedish Society

Documenting Early Use and Trends

Lundin, Per

2012, VIII, 148 p.

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  • Describes a historiography aimed at addressing the question of how computing shaped and transformed Swedish society between 1950 and 1980
  • Presents a user-centered perspective on the history of computing
  • Examines the documentation of users, describing novel and innovative documentation methods

In order to understand the role of computers in society, it is important to consider the complex relationship between the design and use of computers from the perspective of the user.

Computers in Swedish Society reviews this shift in the historiography of computing from inventors and innovations to a user-perspective, and examines how the relevant sources can be created, collected, preserved, and disseminated. The text describes and evaluates a collaborative project in Sweden that documented the stories of around 700 people, and obtained extensive donations of archival records and artifacts. The book also provides a critical discussion on the interpretation of oral evidence, presenting three case studies on how this evidence can inform us about the interaction of computing with large-scale transformations in economies, cultures, and societies.

Topics and features:

  • Describes a historiography aimed at addressing the question of how computing shaped and transformed Swedish society between 1950 and 1980
  • Presents a user-centered perspective on the history of computing, after explaining the benefits of such an approach
  • Examines the documentation of users, describing novel and innovative documentation methods such as witness seminars and Internet-based collections of memories
  • Discusses the pros and cons of collaborative projects between academia and industry
  • Provides case studies on the interpretation of oral evidence, dealing with social networks and flows of knowledge, users and uses of technology, and the materiality and geography of computing

The methods and documentation of users described in this unique text/reference will not only be of great interest to historians of computing, technology, science and medicine, but also to researchers in science and technology studies, in library and information studies, and in ethnography, ethnology and folkloristic studies.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Historical Method - Historical Sources - History of Science and Technology - History – 1945 - Information Technology - Oral History

Related subjects » General Issues

Table of contents 

Background and Theoretical Assumptions

Introduction

Toward a User Perspective in the Historiography of Computing

But Who Is the User?

Introducing the “Elite” User

The Need for Documenting the Recent Past

Creating Oral and Written Sources

Documenting History of Computing

Approaching the (Elite) User

Documenting the Use of Computers

The Mutual Shaping of Methodology and Organization

Reflections on Methodology

Conducting Oral History Interviews and Witness Seminars

Acquiring Written Recollections and Designing the Writers’ Web

Created and Collected Sources

Contextualizing the Process of Documentation

Concluding Observations

Oral Evidence and the Swedish Historiography of Computing

Interpreting Oral Evidence

Career Patterns, Social Networks, and Flows of Knowledge

Users and Uses of Technology

The Materiality and Geography of Computing

Conclusions

Appendices

List of Created and Collected Sources

List of Meta-Documentation

Formal Description of Organization and Work Process

Participants in the Project

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