Conference Grants: Eric Rawn at SHOT 2022

29 Dec, 2022

Conference Grants: Eric Rawn at SHOT 2022

We are pleased to support our students sharing their work at the premiere conferences in their field. Eric Rawn presented on his work at Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, during the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information, and Society (SIGCIS). From Eric:

I presented a paper entitled "Making Sense, Crystallizing Reason: Towards An Intellectual History of Pervasive Computing at Xerox PARC" at the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, during the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information, and Society (SIGCIS). SHOT is primarily attended by historians of technology, although SIGCIS has many attendees across media studies, social sciences (especially social scientists of technology), information studies, and human-computer interaction. SIGCIS was held on the final day of the conference as a full day of paper sessions, with an opening keynote from our UCSD colleague Lilly Irani, who presented some of her ongoing work on the City of San Diego's street-level surveillance infrastructure, especially the work of local organizations and activists from the marginalized groups against whom this infrastructure is particularly weaponized. Her presentation embodied the combination of historical investigation, technological analysis, and social critique that was a common part of the papers and discussions for SIGCIS on the whole.

My paper, "Making Sense, Crystallizing Reason", investigated the intellectual underpinnings of "ubiquitous computing" as a technological paradigm through the work of massively influential researcher Mark Weiser, who led a research lab at Xerox PARC during the 1990's and developed the concept. Though my larger project contextualizes Weiser's ideas against other thinkers through the history of interactive computing, this presentation focused on Weiser's intellectual background through primary source work I've done at the Weiser archive at Stanford University. In the presentation I show how his vision for a new way of using and perceiving computers as part of our everyday lives was not merely a technological or business endeavor, but was implicitly an argument on the philosophical status of minds, machines, perception, and action. I develop this argument to clarify ubiquitous computing as an intellectual paradigm, revealing opportunities to see the "politics" of such a paradigm in both computing research and as a guiding principle for much of the computational infrastructure in our world today. I presented in a session entitled "Minds and Machines", alongside the incredible work of Professors Ekaterina Babinsteva and Luke Stark, and PhD Candidate in History Salem Elzway. The conference has already germinated many conversations and connections. As a computer scientist, I look forward to returning next year to continue building this vibrant intellectual community between computer historians and computer science researchers.