Right now I’m thinking along the lines of science fiction and how we’ve gone from the utopia’s of 1960s scifi to the distopia of today. I was originally just gonna talk about scifi distopia, but I think I might be able to weave a narrative about the advances of computing technology and how the advances have changed the popular conception of computers. I think that Gibson via Neuromancer really created the genre of computer-related dystopias… altho for obvious reasons Clarke would have to be the grandfather of* (although I’d have to reread Dick’s Minority Report). While the movie certainly had a computer-generated dystopia, I don’t recall the short story being anything like that. Scifi really morphed from computers as augmentation of humans and allowing the creation of dystopias a la 1984 and Harrison Bergeron to computers as oppositional forces a la Neuromancer and the Matrix.
I got thinking about this because Cerruzi, in his book on the history of computing, asks if we can begin to conceive of a world where computers have negative impact, and says that no one saw the car and thought of smog. Now, granted, he wrote the book 4 years ago, and only briefly updated it since then, so I have to forgive him The Matrix, et all – but Gibson wrote Neuromancer back in 1983(ish).
*A bit of poking shows that Blade Runner came out in 1982, and Gibson published Neuromancer in 1984. So obviously Dick has some serious paternity of the concept of computer-created, futuristic dystopias, as well. Perhaps a better idea would be taking either Blade Runner or Neuromancer and using them as a starting point to jump into the history of, tracing key concepts back and then forward again – for example, if I were to use Blade Runner, to trace the idea of the cyborg automaton backwards to a convenient beginning, and then forward again to hit up into Dick’s Androids…
Stuff to think about, and I would still need to find a group to integrate with, project and presentation-wise. But it has definite possibility.