Smart, fast and beautiful : on rhetoric of technology and computing discourse in Sweden 1955-1995 /

by Johansson, Magnus, Series: Linköping studies in arts and science, 0282-9800 ; . 164 Published by : Linköping University, Department of Technology and Social Change - Tema T, | Color Express (Linköping :) Physical details: 245, [7] s. ill., tab. 30 cm Year: 1997
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Diss. Linköping : Linköpings universitet, 1997

Ever since the computer was introduced some 50 years ago, its role in society has been increasing. From being a tool for scientists and technicians, the computer has become a concern for everyone. Different actors engaged in introducing — or denouncing — this technology, have used many strong words for winning others to the cause. The high symbolic value tied to computers and information technology has made the rhetoric used to "sell" these very explicit. This discourse, the language and arguments used, is the object of study in the dissertation. When it became clear that computers could be used also for rationalising administration, the Swedish government started to investigate how this could be done. In the 1960s, this became one of the first big computerisation projects in Sweden. It turned out to be a controversy between two different ways of organising a big administrative system: national contra regional/local or hierarchical contra decentralised. It also turned out to bee a "war" between the suggested computer makes that should equip the County Computer Centres. In the late 70s, when the "PC revolution" was only beginning, the Luxor ABC 80 computer became the best selling micro in Sweden, outscoring TRS-80, Apple II and Commodore PET many times. From 1978 to 1986 Luxor ABC computers were by far the most used personal computers. A decade later, in the early 1990s, the info-highway hype struck Sweden. Giving politicians arguments for a new wave of computerisation, but now less based on technology and more directed towards the use of "information superhighways" which the development within IT had made possible. These three instances in Swedish computing history form the historical background for this study of computer rhetoric, of the discourse that evolves when a new technological frame is being introduced in society. The social construction of artefacts is an outcome of communication between people. Therefore the language used by different actors in the various "texts" they produce is of vital interest if we want to understand technology and our relationship with it. But it is also true that technology helps to set the frames of our minds. A rhetoric of technology must take this relation into account.

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