Creating Computing Citizens: American History from the User Up

What does it mean to write American history from the user up? 

When I was researching A People’s History of Computing in the United States, stories of students and teachers, principals and professors, touch screens and video games – in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Illinois – jumped off the pages of newsletters, grant reports, and other archival documents. Those are not the people or places that typically come to mind when we think about America’s digital origin stories. This talk focuses on the users of 1960s and 1970s academic computing networks to develop a history of the digital age that emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and community. These students and educators built, accessed, and participated in cooperative digital networks, developing now-quotidian practices of personal computing and social media. In the process, they became what I call “computing citizens.”  

Dr. Joy Lisi Rankin 

Dr. Joy Lisi Rankin is a feminist, anti-racist historian, and a Contributing Editor for Lady Science. She is also a consultant for the documentaries The Birth of BASIC and The Queen of Code and for the television show Girls Code. Rankin was an Exchange Scholar at MIT while earning her doctorate in History from Yale University, as well as a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prior to entering the academy, she had a successful career launching educational programs for students of all ages, which took her around the country. Her website is

Co-sponsors: Department of History, Department of Computer Science, the Women’s Studies Program, Core SP, and Core 152

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Ho Science Center, 101
1819 Oak Dr, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA


Academics, Social Sciences

Event Format

Lectures, colloquia, seminars, etc.

Computer Science Department, History Department, Women's Studies Program
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