CFP: Computers and Futures: Expectations of a Future with Computers in X Countries, 1945-1975

October 26-29, 2017, Philadelphia, PA

Call for papers

After World War II, scientists, policy makers and intellectuals in many countries claimed that their societies were entering a new era, which would be shaped by technologies that had been developed during the war, especially digital computers. MIT, for example, devoted its 100th birthday symposium in 1962 to ‘computers and the world of the future.’ This session explores what kinds of future society were expected to emerge as a consequence of the application of computers in all kinds of activity; how such future expectations were explained to the general public; and to what extent such projections were similar and different in a number of countries. The period to be studied is that of mainframes, before the coming of the pc and the internet, because the cultural dimensions of the later period have already been studied much more than the mainframe era.

The aim of the session is to explore, and begin to explain, to what extent a powerful new technology evoked similar expectations in countries with different political, economic, and cultural structures, and to what extent these expectations differed. The focus is on popular culture (illustrated magazines, newspapers, popular movies and so on), but since experts were important in shaping the public image of computers and of the future, the ‘high culture’-part of the story (Wiener, C.P. Snow, Jungk, and so on) is important as well.

Please send your proposal to vanlente@eur.nl by January 31. Appropriate proposals will be grouped into one or more sessions and submitted to the program committee for the SHOT conference, 26-29 October 2017 in Philadelphia.

Deadline: January 31, 2017

Posted: December 16, 2016