Computers in Swedish Society: Documenting Early Use and Trends (History of Computing)

Computers in Swedish Society: Documenting Early Use and Trends (History of Computing)

Per Lundin

Language: English

Pages: 148

ISBN: 1447129326

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book reviews the shift in the historiography of computing from inventors and innovations to a user-perspective, and examines how the relevant sources can be created, collected, preserved, and disseminated. The text describes and evaluates a project in Sweden that documented the stories of around 700 people. The book also provides a critical discussion on the interpretation of oral evidence, presenting three case studies on how this evidence can inform us about the interaction of computing with large-scale transformations in economies, cultures, and societies. Features: describes a historiography aimed at addressing the question of how computing shaped and transformed Swedish society between 1950 and 1980; presents a user-centered perspective on the history of computing, after explaining the benefits of such an approach; examines the documentation of users, describing novel and innovative documentation methods; discusses the pros and cons of collaborative projects between academia and industry.

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of 2007, we, therefore, devised a formal description of the organization, the workflow, and the different participants’ responsibilities. We presented it in a project manual, which in addition contained descriptions of the methods and the archival routines as well as a collection of template documents for agreement forms, covering letters, oral history skeleton question lists, questionnaires, etc. We distributed the project manual to all project members and discussed its content with them at a

digitize documents and images and upload them to a site. Contrary to “traditional” ways of acquiring written recollections, Internet-based methods and tools, for example, the blog, allow for interactivity between the contributing individuals.22 Another example is the wiki-based solutions, which create accounts that, in a sense, are collectively molded. My survey of oral history projects in Chap. 1 has made it clear that different methods and tools have their pros and cons. Oral history

punch operators and secretaries. A measure of diversity is the number of participating women. In the completed interviews and seminars, the share of women was only 7%, while it was 21% in the acquired written recollections (Fig. 2.4). Fig. 2.4With the call for autobiographies, we were able to reach the “end user,” who was in several cases a woman. The picture shows the office worker Ingeli Åkerberg with the word processor Wordplex at the end of the 1970s (Source: Tekniska museet) The Writers’

on indirect, scarce, and scattered evidence will always show a various degree of uncertainty, but by searching a large number of sources, they can be made more robust. Herein lies one of the great strengths of having access to a large collection of data.12 When the oral histories are juxtaposed, patterns, similarities or differences, eventually appear—and the larger the search the clearer they appear. It should be added that the robustness of the interpretation will increase if the patterns can

to our understanding of how, during the first postwar decades, users at various levels in different organizations adapted, modified, reconfigured, and resisted computing technology in order to fit their purposes and the intentions of their organizations. Thus, the collection of oral histories allows us to counter the simplistic, but widely held assumption, of wholesale appropriation of technology. It provides numerous examples of multiple processes of coconstruction in virtually all segments of

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