[Air-L] Non-Code-Centric Texts in Introductions To Computer Science?

Seda Guerses sguerses at esat.kuleuven.be
Tue Sep 28 08:37:43 PDT 2010

dear peter,

i have a germany-centric response to your question, i hope it is not  
too narrow in scope.

the year i started studying computer science, university of bremen  
introduced a summer school called informatica feminale, which had the  
intention of providing an alternative computer science curricula to  
women in computing. the "alternative" in my opinion referred to two  
things: a) to a women's space in which the gender roles are for a  
moment shifted (all the participants, i.e., instructors, organizers,  
and students are women, at the time women made up 4-7% of cs students  
in germany) and b) to providing a background similar to that which you  
are searching, with a feminist twist. i looked at the program for this  
year and have to admit that the curricula has swayed into a training  
program/career planning help, but the curricula of the prior years  
give some insihgt into some of the aspirations of the summer school in  
the beginning of the 00s. for example, see the link to the colloquim:
or, simply check older curricula here:

with our little group back then, i remember reading and discussing  
much around alan turing, his life, his construction of the turing test  
(can the machine fake a "man" or a "woman" in the immitation game? can  
the machine fake a human? replacing the question: can the machine  
think? see here the original article: http://www.loebner.net/Prizef/TuringArticle.html) 
  and its significance for computer science. this also was accompanied  
by a historical conception of the computer as a machine, a tool and  
later as media. here we were relying on the work of heidi schelhowe  
who was inspired by carl adam petri and worked together with friedrich  
nake. see for example (unfortunately in german):
SCHELHOWE, H., F. NAKE (1994). "Der Computer als instrumentales  
Medium". In: F. Nake (Hrsg.): Zeichen und Gebrauchswert. Beiträge zur  
Maschinisierung von Kopfarbeit. Universität Bremen, FB Mathematik/ 
Informatik, Bericht Nr. 6/94 (1994). 15-28

in germany, the "alternative" curriculum is covered by a sub- 
department within computer science traditionally called "informatik  
und gesellschaft". the old school informatik und gesellschaft  
professors have come up with great topics, again i propose looking at  
the works of friedrich nake, wolfgang coy, heidi schelhowe, britta  
schinzel, bernd lutterbeck, and many more. i hope that you also find  
some of their texts in english. here is one i found by wolfgang coy on  
"defining a discipline":

  it will be a pitty if the critical initiative of these professors  
get lost now that they are slowly retiring. :) i certainly miss their  
presence in belgium, where the computer science tradition has no  
equivalebt sub-discipline.


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