Center for Science Writings Event: Andrew Russell, "The Promise and Perils of Open Systems"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 ( 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm )

Location: Babbio 122, Stevens Institute of Technology

Wednesday, October 22, 3-4:30 p.m., Babbio 122
Andrew Russell (Associate Professor of History, Director of the STS Program at Stevens), "The Promise and Perils of Open Systems"
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In the 20th century the concept of an “open system” spread throughout the professions, from diplomacy and philosophy to economics and engineering. In the early 21st century, we now commonly hear about the virtues of “openness” in software, science, and government - realms, we are told, that can benefit from the marriage of digital technology and distributed collaboration. At the same time, critics warn that the exuberant rhetoric of “openness” masks power asymmetries and serious problems in process of system design. In this talk Russell will describe how the history of standards for computer networks sheds light on both the promise and perils of so-called “open” systems, including the Internet.

Andrew L. Russell is Associate Professor in History and Director of the Program in Science & Technology Studies in the College of Arts & Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is the author of Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and he has published over a dozen articles and book chapters on standardization in the Bell System, the American system of voluntary standards, the Internet-OSI standards war, and digital cellular networks in the United States and Europe.  He is a graduate of Vassar College (B.A. History, 1996), the University of Colorado at Boulder (M.A. History, 2003), and the Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D. History of Science and Technology, 2007).