In which I quell my anxieties and curiosity about the growing chasm between our digital and analog realities by archiving the work of those who have dared to reach across the gap.
What Zuboff observed was that as intellectual engagement with the work went down, the necessity of concentration and attention went up. What the computer did was make the work so routine, so boring, so mindless, clerical workers had to physically exert themselves to be able to focus on what they were even doing. This transition, from work being about the application of knowledge to work being about the application of attention, turned out to have profound physical and psychological impact on the clerical workers themselves.
As is so often the case, those who did the enduring were women, and in many cases, specifically, women of color.... for it was their bodies that would be on the frontlines of the dramatic transformations in workplace automation wrought by computing terminals in the 1970s and personal computers in the 1980s. Unlike hobbyist and leisure users of home and personal computers like Henry Getson, both white women’s and women of color’s use of computing typically happened in a workplace context, as computing technology was pushed upon the clerical and administrative labor traditionally siloed to pink-collar workers doing clerical work, data entry, word processing, book-keeping, and other administrative tasks.
To consider the history of computing through the lens of computer pain is to center bodies, users, and actions over and above hardware, software, and inventors. This perspective demands computer history to engage with a world beyond the charismatic object of computers themselves, with material culture, with design history, with workplace ethnography, with leisure studies.
...the locus of health concerns would shift from auditory to visual once computing systems began converging with CRT monitors in the 1970s...
Mid-century mainframes and large-scale minicomputers, with their high energy consumption and cooling needs, whirling tape drives, and clackety teletypes and teleprinters, were known to cause stress on the auditory system.