Social Studies of Computing

Multidisciplinary Research Group at McGill University

SHAPE of CS Reading Group

This reading group examines the questions "what shapes CS as a field?" and "what is it that makes CS be CS?". We look at the sociology, history, anthropology, philosophy, and education of CS. Issues we discuss include how educators shape the field, social forces that have historically shaped the field, gender and other equity issues, how the boundaries of CS are socially constructed, the epistemology of computing knowledge, ethics in computer science, and the practices of computer scientists.

Anybody can participate in the reading group. To participate, join our mailing list.

In winter 2020, we'll be meeting on Friday at 2:30pm EDT in McConnell 312.

Sometimes we will discuss papers using this How to Read Academic Papers activity.

Upcoming Readings

This is a draft schedule; readings are subject to change from participant feedback.

  1. Jan 24, 2020: change discourses
    Van den Brink, Marieke, and Lineke Stobbe. "The support paradox: Overcoming dilemmas in gender equality programs." Scandinavian Journal of Management 30, no. 2 (2014): 163-174. Scroll down on the site to read the full article
  2. Jan 31, 2020: hacker ideologies
    Coleman, E. Gabriella, and Alex Golub. "Hacker practice: Moral genres and the cultural articulation of liberalism." Anthropological Theory 8, no. 3 (2008): 255-277.
  3. Feb 7, 2020: questioning coding propaganda
    Sara Vogel, 2019. Power, Discourse, and Knowledge in Computer Science Education Advocacy: An Analysis of Popular Videos, SocArXiV.

Past Readings

  1. May 17, 2018: epistemic traditions
    Tedre, Matti, and Erkki Sutinen. "Three traditions of computing: What educators should know." Computer Science Education 18, no. 3 (2008): 153-170.
  2. May 24, 2018: historiography of CS history
    Ensmenger, Nathan. "The digital construction of technology: Rethinking the history of computers in society." Technology and Culture 53, no. 4 (2012): 753-776.
  3. May 31, 2018: women in computing, 1950-70
    Hicks, Marie. "Only the clothes changed: women operators in British computing and advertising, 1950–1970." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 32, no. 4 (2010): 5-17.
  4. June 7, 2018: feminist STS
    Wajcman, Judy. "Feminist theories of technology." Cambridge journal of economics 34, no. 1 (2010): 143-152.
  5. June 14, 2018: the Discourse of women in computing
    Summary written by Elizabeth of Sturman, Susan Michele. "'Women in Computing' as Problematic: Gender, Ethics and Identity in University Computer Science Education." PhD diss., 2009.
  6. June 21, 2018: history of CS education
    Elizabeth will share a draft of a paper she's working on which is an update to her ITiCSE 2013 paper on the subject
  7. June 28, 2018: ethnocomputing
    Lachney, Michael, Audrey Bennett, Jorge Appiah, and Ron Eglash. "Modeling in Ethnocomputing: Replacing Bi-Directional Flows with Recursive Emergence." International Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 6, no. 1 (2016): 219-243.
  8. July 5, 2018: Indigenous North American ethnocomputing
    Eglash, Ron. "Ethnocomputing with Native American Design." Information technology and indigenous people (2007): 210-219.
  9. (no meeting July 12)
  10. July 19, 2018: talking about race
    Tatum, Beverly. "Talking about race, learning about racism: The application of racial identity development theory in the classroom." Harvard Educational Review 62, no. 1 (1992): 1-25.
  11. (no meeting July 26 for EASST)
  12. Aug 2, 2018: technical debt
    Betz, Stefanie, Christoph Becker, Ruzanna Chitchyan, Leticia Duboc, Steve Easterbrook, Birgit Penzenstadler, Norbert Seyff, and Colin Venters. "Sustainability debt: A metaphor to support sustainability design decisions." (2015).
  13. Aug 9, 2018: ethics
    Singer, Janice, and Norman G. Vinson. "Ethical issues in empirical studies of software engineering." IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 28, no. 12 (2002): 1171-1180.
  14. Aug 16, 2018: potluck + what can we do?
    Weigel, Moira. Coders of the world, unite: can Silicon Valley workers curb the power of Big Tech?. The Guardian (2017).
  15. (no meeting Aug 23 & 30, Sep 6)
  16. Sep 13, 2018: privitization of the internet
    Abbate, Janet. "Privatizing the Internet: Competing visions and chaotic events, 1987–1995." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 32, no. 1 (2010).
  17. Sep 20, 2018: history of ideas of diversity in STEM education
    Brotman, Jennie S., and Felicia M. Moore. "Girls and science: A review of four themes in the science education literature." Journal of research in science teaching 45, no. 9 (2008): 971-1002.
  18. Sep 26 and Oct 4 meetings cancelled.
  19. Oct 11, 2018: the pipeline metaphor
    Cannady, Matthew A., Eric Greenwald, and Kimberly N. Harris. "Problemizing the STEM pipeline metaphor: is the STEM pipeline metaphor serving our students and the STEM workforce?." Science Education 98, no. 3 (2014): 443-460.
  20. Oct 18, 2018: gender in design
    Bivens, Rena, and Oliver L. Haimson. Baking gender into social media design: How platforms shape categories for users and advertisers." Social Media+ Society 2, no. 4 (2016): 2056305116672486.
  21. Oct 25, 2018: masculinity contests
    Berdahl, Jennifer L., Marianne Cooper, Peter Glick, Robert W. Livingston, and Joan C. Williams. "Work as a masculinity contest." Journal of Social Issues 74, no. 3 (2018): 422-448.
  22. Nov 1, 2018: non-binary genders
    Jaroszewski, Samantha, Danielle Lottridge, Oliver L. Haimson, and Katie Quehl. "Genderfluid or Attack Helicopter: Responsible HCI Research Practice with Non-binary Gender Variation in Online Communities." In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, p. 307. ACM, 2018.
  23. Nov 8, 2018: open source culture
    Nafus, Dawn. "‘Patches don’t have gender’: What is not open in open source software." New Media & Society 14, no. 4 (2012): 669-683.
  24. Nov 15, 2018: decolonizing activity with Horatiu
  25. Nov 22, 2018: gender training interventions
    Rawski, Shannon L., and Angela L. Workman‐Stark. "Masculinity contest cultures in policing organizations and recommendations for training interventions." Journal of Social Issues 74, no. 3 (2018): 607-627.
  26. Nov 29, 2018: the nature of science
    Brickhouse, Nancy W. "Teachers' beliefs about the nature of science and their relationship to classroom practice." Journal of teacher education 41, no. 3 (1990): 53-62.
  27. Dec 6, 2018: partial perspectives
    Haraway, Donna. "Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective." Feminist studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575-599.
  28. Dec 13, 2018: technofeminism revisited
    Suchman, Lucy. Working relations of technology production and use." Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2, no. 1-2 (1993): 21-39.
  29. January 22, 2019: history of graphical user interfaces
    Chapter 3 of Ellcessor's Restricted access: Media, disability, and the politics of participation.
  30. January 29, 2019: digital accessibility
    Chapter 5 of Restricted access: Media, disability, and the politics of participation.
  31. February 5, 2019: Decolonizing HCI
    Nathan, Lisa P., Kaczmarek, Michelle, castor, maggie, Cheng, Shannon and Raquel Mann. "Good for whom? Unsettling research practice." In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Communities and Technologies, p. 290-297. ACM 2017.
  32. February 12, 2019: migrant IT work
    Chapter 1 of Amrute's Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT workers in Berlin (Imagining the Indian IT body).
  33. February 19, 2019: race, class and computing
    Chapter 3 of Amrute's Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT workers in Berlin (Proprietary freedoms in an IT office).
  34. February 26, 2019: surveillance and the military-industrial complex
    D'Souza, Radha. "The surveillance state: A composition in four movements." Chapter 2 of Choudry's Activists and the surveillance state: Learning from repression, p. 23-52. 2018.
  35. (No meeting March 5 – sci-fi reading break!).
  36. March 12, 2019: utopian sci-fi
    Read up to and including chapter 5 of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia.
  37. March 19, 2019: utopian sci-fi
    Read up to and including chapter 9 of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia.
  38. March 26, 2019: utopian sci-fi
    Finish Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (chapters 10 - 13).
  39. (No meeting April 2 to May 7 – break!)
  40. May 16, 2019: algorithmic bias and transphobia.
    Hicks, M. "Hacking the Cis-tem" IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 41, issue 1 (2019): 20-33.
  41. May 23, 2019: social justice, sustainability and software systems
    Christoph Becker visiting from Toronto and giving a talk on "Unjust, Unsustainable Software Systems: Is Computing Insolvent?"
  42. June 20, 2019: crip theory I
    Hamraie A., and Fritsch, K. Crip Technoscience Manifesto. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 5, no. 1 (2019).
  43. June 27, 2019: crip theory II
    Hamraie, A. Cripping Feminist Technoscience. Hypatia, 30, no. 1 (2014): 307-313.
  44. Jul 26, 2019: CS in the schools
    Larke, Laura R. "Agentic neglect: Teachers as gatekeepers of England’s national computing curriculum." British Journal of Educational Technology 50, no. 3 (2019): 1137-1150.
  45. July 11, 2019: debiasing ML
    Keyes, Os, Jevan Hutson, and Meredith Durbin. "A Mulching Proposal: Analysing and Improving an Algorithmic System for Turning the Elderly into High-Nutrient Slurry." Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2019.
  46. July 4, 2019: surveillance within schools
    Gillum, Jack, and Jeff Kao. "Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students"ProPublica (2019).
  47. Oct 18, 2019: capitalism
    Contrapoints on Capitalism: Part 1 and Part 2.
    (Optional reading: (Why) Americans Don’t Understand What Capitalism Really Is)
  48. Oct 24, 2019: classroom dynamics
    Chávez, Vivian, and Elisabeth Soep. Youth radio and the pedagogy of collegiality." Harvard Educational Review 75, no. 4 (2005): 409-434.
  49. Nov 15, 2019: group activity
    We'll be playing Colleen Lewis' Microaggressions: The Game!
  50. Nov 22, 2019: speculative methods
    Benjamin, R. (2016). Racial fictions, biological facts: Expanding the sociological imagination through speculative methods. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2(2).
  51. Nov 29, 2019: organizational change in tech
    Wynn, Alison T. Pathways toward Change: Ideologies and Gender Equality in a Silicon Valley Technology Company." Gender & Society (2019): 0891243219876271.
  52. Dec 6, 2019: Horațiu will share a draft of his thesis and we'll be doing some activities based on that.
  53. Dec 13, 2019: The New Jim Code
    Introduction chapter of Ruha Benjamin's Race After Technology
  54. Jan 10, 2020: tech and solidarity
    Ruha Benjamin's Race After Technology, Chapter 5
  55. Jan 17, 2020: making change
    Ely, Robin J., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Advancing gender equity in organizations: The challenge and importance of maintaining a gender narrative." Organization 7, no. 4 (2000): 589-608.