The Social Construction of the Personal Computer User

  • Bardini T
  • Horvath A
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Abstract

This article reconstructs the social networks linking early personal computing pioneers in order to identify the social and political representations and images that defined these social networks. Using interviews of key actors and, guided by social network theory, we describe the linkage between technical development and cultural representations, particularly those of the user, in the case of personal computers. From this reconstructed perspective, the personal computer as a technology can be seen both as a machine and as a culture, enabling us to analyze the way our own activity as today's computer users has been socially constructed. Focusing on the translation of ideas from the Stanford Research Institute to Xerox PARC in the 1970s, we report on our progress in rebuilding these networks and the representations they contained.

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Authors

  • Thierry Bardini

  • August T. Horvath

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