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July-Sept. 2012 (vol. 34 no. 3)
pp. 80
Andrew L. Russell, Stevens Institute of Technology
From a technical point of view, standards make it possible to combine a variety of components into a functional system or network. From a strategic point of view, stories about standards are necessarily about power and control—they always either reify or change existing conditions and are always conscious attempts to shape the future in specific ways. Historians of computing also should think about the process of standardization in terms that are more common for cultural theorists and about conceptualize standardization as a process of critique. In some cases, engineers offered explicit critiques in published works, conference presentations, and statements to the press—candid commentary on existing market, regulatory, and technical controversies. In other cases, engineers challenged the status quo implicitly, not by dwelling on existing conditions but by building new standards, network architectures, and institutions. Attention to both explicit and implicit forms of critique can help historians to situate innovations in computer networking more deeply in the social worlds that created and used them.
Index Terms:
Standards,History,Standards organizations,CCITT,history of computing,standards development,Michel Foucault,Gerald Raunig,data networking,IBM,telecommunication standards,International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee
Citation:
Andrew L. Russell, "Standards, Networks, and Critique," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 80, July-Sept. 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.46
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