In “History of the Digital Age”, we will explore the nineteenth-century roots of our contemporary digital technologies, and the social and cultural context of their development over the last century and a half. Through a process of lecture, discussion, writing, and hands-on activities, not only will we learn about the important inventors of the early computing machines, but we will also learn about others who have labored in the service of growing, supporting, and changing these technologies.
No scientific or technological change happens in a black box, so we will be careful to interrogate the processes and ideological assumptions that surrounded the creation of computing machines, the crafting of their programs, and their integration into society. Additionally, we will explore the tension between the creative freedom that has come with widespread access to computers and the networks that connect them, and the persistent corporate and governmental control that has functioned to shape their availability and use. Finally, we will examine a number of contemporary issues and challenges raised by the increasing pervasiveness of computer technologies in public and private contexts.
Please read all the pages of this site carefully. Your success in this course depends on completing all readings, written work, and quizzes, on time, and producing clear, original work that upholds MSU’s standards for academic honesty and integrity. There will be no extensions for late work. Any instance of plagiarism will result in the student receiving an F for the course.