Prof Paul Atkinson's Inaugural Professorial Lecture
Thursday 03 October 2013
The Spectacle of Computing
The design history of the electronic computer is surprisingly varied; inherently ephemeral, it is constantly discarded and re-imagined. As a result, it has been represented as everything from a know-it-all electronic brain to a fearful artificial intelligence ready to replace human work (and even humans); as the saviour of mankind and its nemesis in equal measure; from a mundane piece of office equipment to a science-fiction inspired personal fantasy. This changing representation of the computer has affected the ways in which computers have been perceived and in turn how they have been presented as designed objects. As computers become more and more personal, their design has come to reflect who we are as their owners. This lecture aims to highlight some of these cultural representations and their effects on the physical form of computing.
Professor Paul Atkinson’s research covers design practice, design theory and design history, exploring the relationship between society and technology. His published works cover the design history of computers, professional versus amateur design, open design, the history of DIY and the future impact of emerging technologies in direct digital production. He has contributed widely to the fields of Design and Design History through executive memberships of the Design History Society and The International Committee on Design Histories and Studies. He has held Editorial Board memberships of a number of international journals, and is currently Chair of The European Academy of Design and Editor of The Design Journal. He has worked for Sheffield Hallam University since 2008.
Click here to read an article on the lecture in the Sheffield Star.
More details of Prof Atkinson's new book 'Delete: A Design History of Computer Vapourware' can be found here. Delete explores the history of computers designed to impress that never reached the shops.