In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the history of two intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. The first was Chile's experiment with peaceful socialist change under Salvador Allende; the second was the simultaneous attempt to build a computer system that would manage Chile's economy. Neither vision was fully realized -- Allende's government ended with a violent military coup; the system, known as Project Cybersyn, was never completely implemented -- but they hold lessons for today about the relationship between technology and politics.
Drawing on extensive archival material and interviews, Medina examines the cybernetic system envisioned by the Chilean government -- which was to feature holistic system design, decentralized management, human-computer interaction, a national telex network, near real-time control of the growing industrial sector, and modeling the behavior of dynamic systems. She also describes, and documents with photographs, the network's Star Trek-like operations room, which featured swivel chairs with armrest control panels, a wall of screens displaying data, and flashing red lights to indicate economic emergencies.
Studying project Cybersyn today helps us understand not only the technological ambitions of a government in the midst of political change but also the limitations of the Chilean revolution. This history further shows how human attempts to combine the political and the technological with the goal of creating a more just society can open new technological, intellectual, and political possibilities. Technologies, Medina writes, are historical texts; when we read them we are reading history.
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Eden Medina is Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington. She received the IEEE Life Member's Prize in Electrical History in 2007 for her work on Chile's experiments with cybernetics and socialism.Review:
"If there's a lesson in Medina's account, it's that the task of designing a politics into a technology is not only necessarily social and unwieldy, but best understood at the micro-level. By doing good history here, Medina has also provided something of a design brief, a guide to just how broadly and deeply designers need look when seeking to embed their work within a particular political vision." -- Computational Culture: A Journal of Software Studies
"[Medina] reminds us that technology is history written in mechanical code, of necessity a synthesis of an era but nevertheless only a compressed version of events. Her thought-provoking book gives us a new perspective on social processes and is a must for those interested in history and philosophy of sciences, communications in the age of Twitter, anthropology, and political economy." -- Latin American Perspectives
Cybernetic Revolutionaries is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of cybernetics or the intersection of computer technology and politics.(Howard Rheingold, critic and author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution)
This wonderful book explores cybernetics in Allende's Chile. In so doing, it blends social and technical issues with large scale economic planning and the dynamic politics of the time. It is a must-read for anyone interested in this era, and for anyone interested in the incorporation of science and technology studies into historical and political discourse.(Geoffrey C. Bowker, Professor and Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh)
Though we forget it at our peril, cybernetics has always been a science of control as well as communication. Medina's riveting history returns us to a moment when computers promised to liberate an entire nation. It reminds us just how appealing a cybernetic utopia can be, and how impossible to achieve.(Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism)
...Medina has written a wonderful, accessible book, a thorough examination of a project that generally serves as an enigmatic aside in other histories. At times it's quite a romp, as befits a story with an extraordinary character like Beer at its heart. And it's a splendid introduction to Beer's thoughts, his ideals and the history of cybernetics.(Icon Magazine)
This is indispensable reading for historians of Latin America and historians of technology alike.(Suzanne Moone American Historical Review)
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Descrizione libro The MIT Press, 2011. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0262016494
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Descrizione libro The MIT Press, 2011. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0262016494
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Descrizione libro Mit Pr, 2011. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Brand New. first edition (1 in number line) edition. 312 pages. 9.10x7.10x1.00 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria 0262016494