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About Benjamin Peters
His research examines the long evolution of media and technology from the big bang to big data. His work is organized around three basic coordinates of space (comparing media systems), time (new media history), and power (technology criticism). For example, his first book, How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (MIT Press, 2016), turns upsidedown the role of computer networks in the cold war technology race; his second solo-authored book, which is in the works, tells the secret history of the Soviet AI; his third book, an edited volume in the spirit of Raymond Williams, Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture (Princeton University Press, 2016), examines the relationship of power and language in the age of search; his fourth book, a coedited volume Your Computer is on Fire (MIT Press, 2021), delivers seventeen keynote criticisms of modern-day technology, starting with, you guessed it, Amazon.
Follow him on Twitter at @bjpeters
Or see more of his work at benjaminpeters.org
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This book sounds an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley-led technophilia. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are not just minor bugs to be patched, but part and parcel of ideas that assume technology can fix--and control--society.
Janet Abbate, Ben Allen, Paul N. Edwards, Nathan Ensmenger, Mar Hicks, Halcyon M. Lawrence, Thomas S. Mullaney, Safiya Umoja Noble, Benjamin Peters, Kavita Philip, Sarah T. Roberts, Sreela Sarkar, Corinna Schlombs, Andrea Stanton, Mitali Thakor, Noah Wardrip-Fruin
How the digital revolution has shaped our language
In the age of search, keywords increasingly organize research, teaching, and even thought itself. Inspired by Raymond Williams's 1976 classic Keywords, the timely collection Digital Keywords gathers pointed, provocative short essays on more than two dozen keywords by leading and rising digital media scholars from the areas of anthropology, digital humanities, history, political science, philosophy, religious studies, rhetoric, science and technology studies, and sociology. Digital Keywords examines and critiques the rich lexicon animating the emerging field of digital studies.
This collection broadens our understanding of how we talk about the modern world, particularly of the vocabulary at work in information technologies. Contributors scrutinize each keyword independently: for example, the recent pairing of digital and analog is separated, while classic terms such as community, culture, event, memory, and democracy are treated in light of their historical and intellectual importance. Metaphors of the cloud in cloud computing and the mirror in data mirroring combine with recent and radical uses of terms such as information, sharing, gaming, algorithm, and internet to reveal previously hidden insights into contemporary life. Bookended by a critical introduction and a list of over two hundred other digital keywords, these essays provide concise, compelling arguments about our current mediated condition.
Digital Keywords delves into what language does in today's information revolution and why it matters.
Between 1959 and 1989, Soviet scientists and officials made numerous attempts to network their nation—to construct a nationwide computer network. None of these attempts succeeded, and the enterprise had been abandoned by the time the Soviet Union fell apart. Meanwhile, ARPANET, the American precursor to the Internet, went online in 1969. Why did the Soviet network, with top-level scientists and patriotic incentives, fail while the American network succeeded? In How Not to Network a Nation, Benjamin Peters reverses the usual cold war dualities and argues that the American ARPANET took shape thanks to well-managed state subsidies and collaborative research environments and the Soviet network projects stumbled because of unregulated competition among self-interested institutions, bureaucrats, and others. The capitalists behaved like socialists while the socialists behaved like capitalists.
After examining the midcentury rise of cybernetics, the science of self-governing systems, and the emergence in the Soviet Union of economic cybernetics, Peters complicates this uneasy role reversal while chronicling the various Soviet attempts to build a “unified information network.” Drawing on previously unknown archival and historical materials, he focuses on the final, and most ambitious of these projects, the All-State Automated System of Management (OGAS), and its principal promoter, Viktor M. Glushkov. Peters describes the rise and fall of OGAS—its theoretical and practical reach, its vision of a national economy managed by network, the bureaucratic obstacles it encountered, and the institutional stalemate that killed it. Finally, he considers the implications of the Soviet experience for today's networked world.
About the author: Elliot Peters, 10, has, for five years, tried to write a novel. After five years of trying and not succeeding, he wrote a childrens' book instead. He has an older brother named Aaron and two younger sisters named Libbie and Maya. He lives in Tulsa, OK.
About the illustrator: Ben Peters is Elliot's father and a long-time doodler. He teaches at the University of Tulsa and is also author of How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet and editor of Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture.
This book was written after reading Mac Barnett's book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole