CDCS Annual Lecture event poster
Ann Harrison; Original images from University of Edinburgh Image Collections

The Centre for Data, Culture & Society is delighted to announce the inaugural CDCS Annual Lecture 2020:

 Hello World: or, how we learned to stop worrying, and love the computer


Tuesday 15 December 2020, 16:00 – 17:30 GMT

In this lecture, Prof Aimée Morrison will explore the cultural landscape of personal computing and how it became embedded in our lives and homes in the late 20th century. 

As useful in everyday life as “atomic pastrami slicers,” in Douglas Gelertner’s phrase, it is hard to understand how everyday people came to desire to have small computers in their homes during the 1980s. As the 1970s waned, it seemed, not even science fiction could imagine much of future in which Computers made life better rather than worse—and yet, by the end of the 1980s, smaller, more personal computing was largely understood to herald leaps in productivity, education, personal freedom, and even the potential for world peace. At least, that’s what pop culture treatments of the “microcomputer” argued. “Your own personal computer: Imagine that,” implored a mid-decade magazine ad, and we did, over and over in a huge variety of genres and media.

This talk whizzes across the cultural landscape for emerging new representations of individualized computing practices and machines that rehabilitated computing’s popular reputation by imagining it in new guises and new roles, from Carl Sagan’s pitches for scientific calculators to Richard Pryor’s everyman computer hacker in Superman III, and a lot in between. It was through these more imaginary engagements that personal computers first entered our homes and our understanding, in ways that continue to influence computing today. 


Professor Aimée Morrison is Associate Professor in the Department of  English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Aimée’s teaching and research focuses on popular reception and remediation of computer technologies, as well as on social media as a platform for auto/biography and activism.

Recent publications include: "Micro counter narratives: viral hashtag humour in #DistractinglySexy and #StayMadAbby.” in Digital Dilemmas: Transforming Gender Identities and Power Relations in Everyday Life. Eds. D. Parry et al.  and “Of, By, and For the Internet: New Media Studies and Public Scholarship.” Routledge Companion to Digital Media Studies. Ed. J Sayers.


Seminar event recording


First broadcast on 15 December 2020.

This recording is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

To watch in full screen mode via Media Hopper, click here.