Volume 57 Issue 3 (November 2022)

Computer Dating in the Classifieds: Complicating the Cultural History of Matchmaking by Machine

by Bo Ruberg

p. 235-254


This article looks at the phenomenon of computer dating through its appearance in the classified ads of the Village Voice. Popular between the late 1960s and mid-1970s, computer dating services used questionnaire data to match singles. Highlighting new perspectives drawn from the classifieds, this article offers a cultural history of computer dating in the United States, charting its rise and fall and the shifting public sentiments around it. The article argues that computer dating should be understood as a media phenomenon and demonstrates how computer dating ads complicate teleological narratives about contemporary dating technologies, offering an alternative history of how computers became "personal."

Bo Ruberg, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. They are the author of Sex Dolls at Sea: Imagined Histories of Sexual Technologies (MIT Press, 2022), The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games (Duke University Press 2020), and Video Games Have Always Been Queer (New York University Press, 2019). Dr. Ruberg is also the incoming co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of media studies..

Everything Old Is New Again: A Comparison of Midcentury American EDP Schools and Contemporary Coding Bootcamps

by Kate M. Miltner

p. 255-282


Over the course of the past decade, coding has been positioned as a silver-bullet solution for several key issues in the US tech industry. The coding bootcamps that have sprung up in response to the contemporary coding obsession may appear innovative, but they bear a remarkable resemblance to the electronic data programming (EDP) schools that proliferated during the "software crisis" of the 1960s and 1970s. By comparing the current coding craze and coding bootcamps to the software crisis and EDP schools, this article not only draws attention to the remarkable similarities between the two periods and institutional forms but also identifies specific qualities and problematic practices of EDP schools that threaten to repeat themselves with coding bootcamps. It then concludes with some reflections about why certain "forgotten" histories of computing are more relevant now than ever..

Kate M. Miltner is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Data, AI, and Society in the Information School at the University of Sheffield. Her work explores issues of power and inequality in digital systems, institutions, and cultures.

Gender Bias in Big Data Analysis

by Thomas J. Misa

p. 283-306


This article combines humanistic "data critique" with informed inspection of big data analysis. It measures gender bias when gender prediction software tools (Gender API, Namsor, and Genderize.io) are used in historical big data research. Gender bias is measured by contrasting personally identified computer science authors in the well-regarded DBLP dataset (1950–80) with exactly comparable results from the software tools. Implications for public understanding of gender bias in computing and the nature of the computing profession are outlined. Preliminary assessment of the Semantic Scholar dataset is presented. The conclusion combines humanistic approaches with selective use of big data methods.

Thomas J. Misa is a professor of History of Science and Technology and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he formally directed the Charles Babbage Institute. His books include Modernity and Technology (coedited with Philip Brey and Andrew Feenberg; MIT Press, 2003).

The Telegraph, Bandwidth, and the News Story

by Richard B. Kielbowicz

p. 307-331


Transmitting information as electrical impulses favored such story qualities as brevity, an inverted-pyramid structure, and a muted authorial voice. Historians often ascribe these attributes to the narrow bandwidth of early telegraphy, overlooking decades of innovation that expanded its information-carrying capacity. This article argues that telegraphic story qualities lodged in journalism when the network delivered too much, not too little, information. The news industry discovered that a story's telegraphic qualities contributed to the efficiency of processing texts and suited marketing. Journalists and journalism educators embraced telegraphic style as a reporter's stock-in-trade that distinguished newswriting from other forms of presenting information.

Richard Kielbowicz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Most of his research focuses on pre-Internet communication networks, specifically the postal system, telegraphy, telephony, and early broadcasting. His studies examine how technology and public policy affected the circulation of public information (news, entertainment, advertising) — who got it, on what terms, and in what form.

The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe by Paul Dover (review)

p. 332-334

The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe
by Paul Dover
PAPERBACK, $29.99; HARDCOVER, $84.99; 
ISBN: 978-1-316-60203-4

Rachel Midura


IT IS ALL TOO COMMON TO REFER TO THE PRESENT INFORMATION AGE AS UNPRECEDENTED. Dover's Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe provides a comprehensive map for reorienting oneself within a history of information. The reader will find a deftly woven account incorporating the past three decades of scholarship on information, facts, and data in the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries...Scholars and students alike will find Information Revolution a persuasive and accessible primer on the early modern information age.

Social Media and the Automatic Production of Memory: Classification, Ranking, and Sorting of the Past by Ben Jacobsen and David Beer (review)

p. 335-336

Social Media and the Automatic Production of Memory: Classification, Ranking, and Sorting of the Past 
by Ben Jacobsen and David Beer
ISBN: 978-1-529-21815-2

Trang Le


IN SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE AUTOMATIC PRODUCTION OF MEMORY, BEN JACOBSEN AND DAVID Beer examine the pervasive power of social media to intervene in one of the most intimate aspects of our lives: how we remember.

Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (review)

p. 337-338

Bitstreams: The Future of Digital Literary Heritage 
by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
ISBN: 978-0-812-22495-5

Roopika Risam


OVER A DECADE AGO, I WAS PART OF THE CURATORIAL TEAM AT EMORY UNIVERSITY THAT WAS charged with creating an exhibition to celebrate the acquisition of Salman Rushdie's papers. We were excited—and somewhat mystified—to receive Rushdie's old computers in the collection. What exactly should we do with them? The answer was to create an emulator that allowed users to poke around his born-digital materials. What was unclear, however, was how our venture into media archaeology could transform literary studies. If only we'd had Matthew Kirschenbaum's new book, Bitstreams.

Operation Valhalla: Writings on War, Weapons, and Media by Friedrich Kittler (review)

p. 339-342

Operation Valhalla: Writings on War, Weapons, and Media
by Friedrich Kittler, edited and translated by Ilinca Iurascu, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, and Michael Wutz
ISBN: 978-1-478-01184-2

Thorsten Ries


OPERATION VALHALLA COLLECTS GERMAN MEDIA THEORIST FRIEDRICH KITTLER'S (1943–2011) essays, lectures, and interviews on war, weapons, and media from 1985 to 2009 in an English translation...This book makes Kittler's previously untranslated and unpublished work on war, media, and literature available to the English-speaking research community, as well as to those teaching at the university level.

A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences by Shannon Mattern (review)

p. 343-345

A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences
by Shannon Mattern
ISBN: 978-0-691-20805-3

Hannah R. Hopkins


IN A CITY IS NOT A COMPUTER: OTHER URBAN INTELLIGENCES, SHANNON MATTERN CHARTS futures for urban planning and design that take into account the entangled, embodied knowledges that comprise a city. In a moment marked by heightened efforts at using surveillance and sensing technologies to control, predict, and make sense of urban environments, A City Is Not a Computer surfaces the ways that "knowledge acquires and represents power" (87) in cities that are increasingly subject to datafication and quantification in service of the promise of a novel efficiency or seamlessness. 

Game History and the Local ed. by Melanie Swalwell (review)

p. 346-347

Game History and the Local
edited by Melanie Swalwell 
HARDCOVER, $119.99; E-BOOK, $89.00
ISBN: 978-3-030-66421-3 (HARDCOVER) ISBN: 978-3-030-66422-0 (E-BOOK)

Samuel Tobin


IN ORDER TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS IMPORTANT BOOK, READERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT ITS authors mean by and do with the terms "game history" and "the local..." Who should read this book? Every game historian should have this book in their library.

Digital Suffragists: Women, the Web, and the Future of Democracy by Marie Tessier (review)

p. 348-349

Digital Suffragists: Women, the Web, and the Future of Democracy
by Marie Tessier 
MIT PRESS, 2021, 288 PP.
ISBN: 978-0-262-04601-5

Mariah Wahl


MARIE TESSIER'S DIGITAL SUFFRAGISTS: WOMEN, THE WEB, AND THE FUTURE OF DEMOC-racy scrutinizes the history of platforms that limit women's voices and examines how the underrepresentation of women online impacts our digital democracy. 

Chinese Internet Buzzwords: Research on Network Languages in Internet Group Communication by Zhou Yan (review)

p. 350-352

Chinese Internet Buzzwords: Research on Network Languages in Internet Group Communication
by Zhou Yan
ROUTLEDGE, 2021, 134 PP.
HARDCOVER, £130.00
ISBN: 978-1-032-04067-7

Xuanxuan Tan


CHINESE INTERNET BUZZWORDS: RESEARCH ON NETWORK LANGUAGES IN INTERNET GROUP Communication addresses internet catchphrases in Chinese cyberspace since 2010. This book adopts a communication studies approach to the language of the internet while also employing perspectives from cultural studies, linguistics, gender studies, sociology, and politics.