The Smith Effect I: Markets, Governments, and IT
The “Smith Effect” resulted in new ways to analyze the social field and the overlap between economic, social and political spheres. Adam Smith was an important critical theorist in his rejection of mercantile thought and his writings were a forerunner of modern political economy. Two major bodies of economic analysis would emerge from Smith’s writings. One was the classical liberal tradition that combined Smith’s anti-mercantile stance with an increasing emphasis on empirical and quantitative calculation. The other body of analysis was the Marxist tradition that drew its investigation from Smith’s concern for the worker and the processes of valuing commodity forms and accumulating capital.
Management and the Abstraction of Knowledge into Information Technologies
Managers facilitated the movement of bodily effort and skill into the machines and industrial techniques and then expanded into the intellectual areas of the owner/executive.
How IT Came to Rule the World, 1.9: Xerox PARC
The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was sent up by Xerox in 1970 to establish leadership in the “architecture of information”, a sufficiently vague but enticing term coined by Xerox CEO Peter McColough. Drawing on Xerox’s great wealth, PARC harvested the fruits of ARPA’s continuous funding by hiring one of their former directors and by recruiting some of computer science’s top researchers. At PARC, Xerox developed the Alto and the Star, personalized computers with a GUI interface, mouse, and even Ethernet data networking. These PARC innovations inspired companies like Apple, Cisco and 3Com to develop new technologies like the Macintosh and data routers.
Is Cyberpunk Making a Comeback?
Admittedly that sounds quite weak given the “virtual” reality of recent games like Halo or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 not to Second Life or or the military simulations used these days, but it helped sparked imaginations at the time and changed the culture of telecommunications from one dominated by telephone company engineers and Washington DC lawyers to the promise of the web and creative imaginations tech-savvy multimedia designers and entrepreneurs of the 1990s and the zeroes.