A People’s History of Computing in the United States: An Overdue Conversation with Joy Lisi Rankin

Martin-Hardin, Amanda

In this episode, Columbia literature curator Lina Moe sits down with historian and curator of NYU’s AI Now Institute and author of A People’s History of Computing in the United States, Joy Lisi Rankin. Lina and Joy discuss urgent questions about the social history of computing; the ethical dilemmas posed by the power of tech industry giants today; and how race, class, and gender factor into online culture.

Lina and Joy also speculate on the paths not taken in computing. Instead of understanding computers as commodities for purchase, for example, computers could have been considered necessary public goods, similar to utilities.

Joy provides fascinating archival stories that shift the paradigms of computer history, like how instant messaging was created as an educational tool decades before AOL popularized it–or how a Minnesota librarian wrote the early software for what became Apple’s music library, but was never paid for it.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Overdue Conversations
Published Here
November 29, 2022


This episode's duration is: 55:11