Social Issues in Computing

Korean plant

2009 Exhibit on Social Issues in Computing and in-suite Collection

Many collections and materials on the history of computing document the development of the technology itself and of the persons and companies responsible for it. The perspective represented often seems neutral with perhaps an implicit sense that such developments are or were positive. Such a perspective, however, is and has not been universal.

Various communities have seen cause for concern arising from both the computer industry and computing itself, in respect to the impact on jobs, military activities or the perception of specific cultural communities. Fear of such developments can often be seen, but so can hope as communities discuss strategies for coping with - or better yet, capitalizing on - the developments of technology, resulting in a continuum of ideas ranging from the highly worried to the Utopian. 

Many of these materials are ephemeral -- pamphlets and journals created by individuals and small groups, often self-published and bearing the design and physical characteristics recognizable in magazines.The ephemerality and possibly small production numbers of such materials may be responsible for the fact that such materials are not represented in more library collections, but so too may be the idea that the history of computing really is and ought to be the one telling the stories of companies and their products.

The materials have been categorized into three areas of focus: Economics, Workers and the Workplace, Military & Environmental Concerns and Community Voices. (See images below.) As part of the collection, we have included a working bibliography of books, journals, pamphlets, magazines and other print resources, currently available at CBI.

We hope that the materials raise awareness of human stories as computers and the industry impact and transform the way people work, play and communicate.

Economics, Workers and the Workplace

Computer & Socialism

Military & Environmental Concerns 

Death Culture

Community Voices


Black Computer survival guide
These materials are covered under the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).