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The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer (History of Computing) [Kindle Edition]

Jon Agar

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Book Description

In The Government Machine, Jon Agar traces the mechanization of
government work in the United Kingdom from the nineteenth to the early twenty-first
century. He argues that this transformation has been tied to the rise of "expert
movements," groups whose authority has rested on their expertise. The deployment of
machines was an attempt to gain control over state action -- a revolutionary move.
Agar shows how mechanization followed the popular depiction of government as
machine-like, with British civil servants cast as components of a general purpose
"government machine"; indeed, he argues that today's general purpose computer is the
apotheosis of the civil servant.Over the course of two centuries, government has
become the major repository and user of information; the Civil Service itself can be
seen as an information-processing entity. Agar argues that the changing capacities
of government have depended on the implementation of new technologies, and that the
adoption of new technologies has depended on a vision of government and a
fundamental model of organization. Thus, to study the history of technology is to
study the state, and vice versa.


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Review

"In this richly detailed and subtly argued study of British bureaucracy since the eighteenth century, Agar shows how mechanization, both discursive and material, gradually transformed the 'machinery of government' from a metaphor to a guiding force. Viewed in that longer historical perspective, the computer takes its place in a line of technologies inspired by a technocratic vision of public administration and designed to extend the informational resources on which it rests. In bringing out historically specific differences between the development of computing in Britain and the United States, Agar provides new ground for discussions of the social forces that have shaped computing and been shaped by it."--Michael S. Mahoney, Professor of History, Princeton University " The Government Machine is a major contribution to our understanding of the history of computing. Agar deploys metaphor and analysis like a two-edged sword to cut through two centuries of British bureaucracy and calculation, revealing a striking view of why the computer came to play a central role in politics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who prefers history to hype and analysis to anecdote." Robert W. Seidel, History of Science & Technology Program, University of Minnesota "*The Government Machine* is a major contribution to our understanding of the history of computing. Agar deploys metaphor and analysis like a two-edged sword to cut through two centuries of British bureaucracy and calculation, revealing a striking view of why the computer came to play a central role in politics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who prefers history to hype and analysis to anecdote."--Robert W. Seidel, History of Science & Technology Program, University of Minnesota

About the Author

Jon Agar directed the UK National Archive for the History of Computing from 1994 to 2001. He is the author of Science and Spectacle: The Work of Jodrell Bank in Postwar British Culture, Turing and the Universal Machine: The Making of the Modern Computer, and Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7166 KB
  • Print Length: 576 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (26 Sept. 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006V9E186
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,059,898 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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