The Charismatic Cultural Life of Cybernetics: Reading Norbert Wiener as Visible Scientist

Sheryl N. Hamilton

Abstract


Background  Despite cybernetics’ short, incandescent life as a scientific knowledge, it has had an enduring cultural legacy.

Analysis  This article reads Norbert Wiener, the “father of cybernetics,” as a visible scientist, through an analysis of his media profile, in order to explore cybernetics as a popular culture phenomenon in the United States in the late 1940s and the 1950s.

Conclusion and implications  Cybernetics emerges in the post-WWII era as a charismatic knowledge whose aura of wonder and future possibility shapes our interpretation of computing technology to this day.

 

RÉSUMÉ

Contexte  La cybernétique a eu un impact culturel durable, malgré sa brève vie incandescente à titre de savoir scientifique.

Analyse  Cet article représente le « père de la cybernétique », Norbert Wiener, comme savant visible, en analysant son profil médiatique afin d’explorer la cybernétique comme phénomène de culture populaire aux États-Unis à la fin des années 40 et pendant les années 50.

Conclusion et implications  À la suite de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la cybernétique a émergé comme savoir charismatique dont le caractère merveilleux soulignant les possibilités de l’avenir a influencé notre interprétation de l’informatique jusqu’à aujourd’hui.


Keywords


Cybernetics; Visible scientist; Norbert Wiener; Cold War; Computers/Cybernétique; Savant visible; Norbert Wiener; Guerre froide; Ordinateurs

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2017v42n3a3205

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/
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