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The Development of Computer Science: A Sociocultural Perspective

Computer science is a broad discipline, and computer scientists often disagree about the content, form, and practices of the discipline. The processes through which computer scientists create, maintain, and modify knowledge in computer science--processes which often are eclectic and anarchistic--are well researched, but so far there is no consensus on whether studies of such processes belong to the field of computer science or not.

In this thesis the sociocultural formation of computer science and computing technology is analyzed. It is asked if there is a need to extend computer science with meta-knowledge derived from perspectives from disciplines such as sociology, history, anthropology, and philosophy.

Based on a selection of science and technology studies and case studies from the history of computing, an argument is made that understanding the social processes that create and maintain computer science is an important part of understanding computer science. An outlook on social studies of computer science is presented, and it is suggested that it should be acknowledged and included in the ACM Computing Classification Systems as class K.9.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
1.Introduction This thesis is about a phenomenon called computing. Computing is a skill, and com- puting is a science; it entails actions, processes, theories, knowledge, workmanship, and artistry. Computing is a study, a method, a craft, a profession—and an academic discipline. Of all those different meanings of computing, this thesis is focused on the academic field of computing—computer science or computing as a discipline. Throughout the short disciplinary history of electronic digital computing, there has been a great variety of approaches, definitions, and outlooks on computing as a dis- cipline. The arguments have sometimes been fierce, and the pace of the extension of the field has been unparalleled by any other science. This thesis offers one portrayal of the disciplinary history of computing. This thesis is also about a phenomenon called science, or more specifically, science that is connected with computing. This thesis draws from the academic disciplines that are concerned with the phenomenon of science—the philosophy of science, the sociology of scientific knowledge, and other types of science and technology studies (STS). Scholars in the above-mentioned disciplines ask questions such as “What does it mean that something is science?”, “Who defines what is science and what is not?”, and “What is progress in science?”. In this thesis, I discuss the different view- points of the questions above and weigh the pros and cons of those viewpoints. This is not a thesis about the philosophy of science, the sociology of scientific knowledge, or other types of science and technology studies, but science and technology studies are used in constructing a conceptual framework for the analysis of computing as a discipline. This thesis is essentially about a phenomenon called computer science. One cannot begin an exploratory study about computer science by rigidly defining computer sci- ence—or there would not be much to study. Yet what one can do is study the differ- ent ways in which computer science has been characterized, analyze those character- izations, place them in a conceptual framework, and aim to understand the circum- stances in which those characterizations emerged. By doing exactly that, I wish to set up an argument for extending computer science with a branch of study that aims at the disciplinary self-understanding of computer science—social studies of com- puter science. 1

International thesis/dissertation

Autore: Matti Tedre Contatta »

Composta da 500 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 250 click dal 15/11/2006.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.