We talk a lot about “the digital” or “digital humanities” but rarely stop to ask what “digital” really means in this context or how the digitality of the digital computer might explain its unique trajectory from obscure scientific instrument in the 1940s to the underpinning of almost every social interaction and business process in the 2010s. I sketch a new approach to the history of computing centered on these questions and engaged with the tools of STS and media theory. The aim is to ground the emerging field of digital studies in a historically responsible conception of digitality, beginning with the core affordance of digital reading and showing how this underpins later developments such as algorithmic control, modularity, and layered protocols. This builds on my work with the Media of Cooperation project at Siegen University, the collection Exploring the Early Digital (2019) and a current project Becoming Digital.
Thomas Haigh is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and Comenius Visiting Professor for the History of Computing at Siegen University in Germany. He is the lead author of ENIAC in Action (MIT, 2016) and the editor of Histories of Computing (Harvard, 2011) and Exploring the Early Digital (Springer, 2019). Read more at www.tomandmaria.com/tom.
The conference will be moderated by Valérie Schafer.
Thursday, 5 March 2020
11:00 – 12:30
Maison des Sciences humaines, C²DH Open space
11, Porte des Sciences
Free entrance, no reservation needed