CMS.S62/CMS.S98 The Internet as Social Artifact

CMS.S62 (undergrad) / CMS.S98 (grad)
Special Topics in CMS: The Internet as Social Artifact

There is often a tendency to consider technical systems as ‘purely’ technical, designed and built by technical people for technical reasons. But technical systems are always technosocial systems, mixed up with cultural, legal, economic, and political forces that shape the technical, even as the technical shapes them. The internet, in particular, is an artifact shaped not only by technical standards, but by the often utopian aspirations of its architects, and by the local and global communities that have adopted and reshaped it. In CMS.S6X, we take the Internet as our object of study, and review some of the techno/social interactions that have historically contributed to its current shapes. In doing so, we will come to understand the Internet as a social artifact, the technical residue of human politics: a built thing that, like all built things, could have had alternative pasts, and still may have alternative futures.

C. Peterson, E. Zuckerman