At my wonderful job I was lucky enough to work on a 21A.350J. In non-MIT speak, this is a mid-level Anthropology course: Cultures of Computing. (MIT uses a numbering system for departments. All departments numbered 21 are humanities.) The J indicates that it is a cross-listed course (“joint”). It also appears in the course listings for STS (Science, Technology, and Society) and WGS (Women and Gender Studies). You can check out the course in full if you want.
When I started working on it, I had a few requests for the reading list. Here is an editorialized version based on nothing in particular. The complete reading list is available on the course ‘Readings’ page. The full readings page is divided into sessions, each of which has a theme or unifying topic. My list does not contain these.
Reading lists provide two things: a curated collection of (arguably) worthwhile readings on a topic, as well as a view into how a society-acknowledged expert believes the subject ought to be studied. (The readings by Jonathan Swift and René Descartes are good examples of this, as well as the concept of relevant and related content, like Ron Eglash’s talk.)
If you ever have any questions about OCW design, language, or use, please don’t hesitate to ask me or fill out a feedback e-mail. I am lucky enough to get to read them. Many of these, in addition to amazon links (which make us money!), link to abstracts, full text PDFs, and Google Previews.
Descartes, René. Discourses 1, 2, 4, and 5 in Discourse on the Method of Properly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences. Translated from the French by F. E. Sutcliffe. Penguin Books, 1968, pp. 27–44 and 53–76.
Eglash, Ron. “Bamana Sand Divination: Recursion in Ethnomathematics.” American Anthropologist 99, no. 1 (1997): 112–22.
———. “Ron Eglash on African Fractals.” Recorded at TedGlobal 2007, June 2007. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Accessed June 12, 2012. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ron_eglash_on_african_fractals.html
Daston, Lorraine. “Enlightenment Calculations.” Critical Inquiry 21, no. 1 (1994): 182–202.
Winter, Alison. “A Calculus of Suffering: Ada Lovelace and the Bodily Constraints on Women’s Knowledge in Early Victorian England.” In Science Incarnate: Historical Embodiments of Natural Knowledge. Edited by Christopher Lawrence and Steven Shapin. University of Chicago Press, 1998, pp. 202–39. ISBN: 9780226470146. [Preview with Google Books]
Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic Monthly 176, no. 1 (1945): 101–8. Online: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/3881/
Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 1990, pp. 149–82. ISBN: 9780415903875.
Halberstam, Judith. “Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machine.” Feminist Studies 17, no. 3 (1991): 439–60.
Forsythe, Diana E. “Engineering Knowledge: The Construction of Knowledge in Artificial Intelligence.” In Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence. Stanford University Press, 2001, pp. 35–58. ISBN: 9780804741415. [Preview with Google Books]
Helmreich, Stefan. “The Word for World Is Computer: Simulating Second Natures in Artificial Life.” In Growing Explanations: Historical Perspectives on Recent Science. Edited by Norton Wise. Duke University Press, 2004, pp. 275–300. ISBN: 9780822333197. [Preview with Google Books]
Light, Jennifer. “When Computers Were Women.” Technology and Culture 40, no. 3 (1999): 455–83.
Adam, Alison. “AI in Context.” In Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine. Routledge, 1998, pp. 34–68. ISBN: 9780415129633. [Preview with Google Books]
MacKenzie, Donald. “Computing and the Cultures of Proving.” Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 363, no. 1835 (2005): 2335–50.
Rosental, Claude. “Certifying Knowledge: The Sociology of a Logical Theorem in Artificial Intelligence.” American Sociological Review 68, no. 4 (2003): 623–44.
Pfaffenberger, Bryan. “The Social Meaning of the Personal Computer: Or, Why the Personal Computer Revolution Was No Revolution.” Anthropological Quarterly 61, no. 1 (1988): 39–47.
Coleman, Gabriella. “Hacker Practice: Moral Genres and the Cultural Articulation of Liberalism.” Anthropological Theory 8, no. 3 (2008): 255–77.
Kelty, Chris. “Inventing Copyleft.” In Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective. Edited by Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee. University of Chicago Press, 2011, pp. 133–48. ISBN: 9780226907093. [Preview with Google Books]
Wark, McKenzie. A Hacker Manifesto. Harvard University Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780674015432. [Preview with Google Books]
Miller, Daniel. “Preface,” “Marriage Dun Mash Up,” “Community” and “The Invention of Fasbook.” In Tales from Facebook. Polity Press, 2011, pp. ix–xiv, 3–27 and 158–63. ISBN: 9780745652108. [Preview with Google Books]
Papacharissi, Zizi, ed. “A Networked Self.” In A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Routledge, 2010, pp. 304–18. ISBN: 9780415801805. [Preview with Google Books]
Schleiner, Anne-Marie. Parasitic Interventions: Game Patches and Hacker Art. 1999.
Stephenson, Neal. “Mother Earth Mother Board: The Hacker Tourist Ventures Forth across the Wide and Wondrous Meatspace of Three Continents, Chronicling the Laying of the Longest Wire on Earth.” WIRED 4, no. 12 (1996): 1–56.
Gabrys, Jennifer. “Shipping and Receiving: Circuits of Disposal and the “Social Death” of Electronics.” In Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics. University of Michigan Press, 2011, pp. 74–98. ISBN: 9780472117611. [Preview with Google Books]
Helmreich, Stefan. “Artificial Life, Inc.: Darwin and Commodity Fetishism from Santa Fe to Silicon Valley.” Science as Culture 10, no. 4 (2001): 483–504.
Sundaram, Ravi. Recycling Modernity: Pirate Electronic Cultures in India. 2001. (PDF)
Thacker, Eugene. “Biocomputing: Is the Genome a Computer?” In Biomedia (Electronic Mediations). University of Minnesota Press, 2004, pp. 87–114. ISBN: 9780816643530. [Preview with Google Books]