[Air-L] book announcement: Cybernetic Revolutionaries

Eden Medina eden.medina at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 15:34:19 PST 2011

Dear all:

Apologies for cross posting. Just a short note to announce the publication
of my book Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s
Chile, which was just released from MIT Press.  It may be of interest to
those engaged with the relationship of technology and politics; the use of
ICTs for structural change in society; value-centered and participatory
design; computer use outside of the U.S. and Europe, and the history of
computer and communication technologies. I am pasting the back cover blurb
below.  More information about the book is available at:

Best wishes for the holidays,


Book Summary:

In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the history of two
intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. The
first was Chile’s experiment with peaceful socialist change under Salvador
Allende; the second was the simultaneous attempt to build a computer system
that would manage Chile’s economy. Neither vision was fully
realized—Allende’s government ended with a violent military coup; the
system, known as Project Cybersyn, was never completely implemented—but
they hold lessons for today about the relationship between technology and

Drawing on extensive archival material and interviews, Medina examines the
cybernetic system envisioned by the Chilean government—which was to feature
holistic system design, decentralized management, human-computer
interaction, a national telex network, near real-time control of the
growing industrial sector, and modeling of the behavior of dynamic systems.
She also describes, and documents with photographs, the network’s Star
Trek-like operations room, which featured swivel chairs with armrest
control panels, a wall of screens displaying data, and flashing red lights
to indicate economic emergencies.

Studying Project Cybersyn today helps us understand not only the
technological ambitions of a government in the midst of political change
but also the limitations of the Chilean revolution. This history further
shows how human attempts to combine the political and the technological
with the goal of creating a more just society can open new technological,
intellectual, and political possibilities. Technologies, Medina writes, are
historical texts; when we read them we are reading history.

Eden Medina
Assistant Professor of Informatics
Adjunct Assistant Professor of History
School of Informatics and Computing
Indiana University, Bloomington
edenm at indiana.edu

Learn about "Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in
Allende's Chile" (MIT Press, 2011) @ www.cyberneticrevolutionaries.com

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