Friday, July 23, 2010

How IT Came to Rule the World: Regimes

This post was the second of my mini-series on How IT Came to Rule the World originally published at ©

The answer to the question of how information technology (IT) emerged is a complex one. A number of forces can be seen to have infused and shaped its development. The thesis in this project is that modern information technology developed out of the trajectory of US statecraft and its involvement in several political economy regimes which emerged successively and sometimes concurrently in the post-World War II period up and through the turn of the second millennium.

A regime refers to a system of political economy, including the reigning governmental and military power but also the dominant modes of distributing capital and producing goods and services. A regime is a structural alignment between political institutions, corporate and market forces, and the dynamics of human agency – the energy and talent of people working creatively and in collaboration within these structures.

Through relatively consecutive yet overlapping regimes, the system of computerization and telecommunications moved from military and space development, to commercialization, particularly for electronic finance, to the World Wide Web’s e-commerce and social media environment. As social media continues its phenomenal growth, it is on one hand a vehicle for personal empowerment and productivity; and on the other hand, part of an apparatus of surveillance and discipline.

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