the history of technology; STS; computer history; disaster studies; risk; media studies; Y2K; libraries; ethics; the Anthropocene; environmental history; media ecology; apocalyptic romanticism; Luddism; utopias; Lewis Mumford; Günther Anders; Eugene Huzar; technological pessimism;
My research focuses on the end of the world. More specifically I am interested in the belief that humanity’s romance with technology has the species (and the planet) set on a course that will inevitably lead to catastrophe. Thus, my work sits at the intersection of the history of technology and disaster studies, as I consider the roles that technological systems play in causing and exacerbating the risks that can lead to disasters. My dissertation is focused on Y2K, in terms of its social and technical implications, this project considers the ways in which Y2K was seen as a technological risk, and the work that went into ensuring that this risk did not turn into a catastrophe. This disseration project is in keeping with my interest in the ways that computers create risk, and the way in which societies understand and seek to ameliorate these dangers. This research draws heavily on twentieth-century thinkers who expressed misgivings and issued warnings about the direction they feared complex technological systems were pushing society. In undertaking this work, I am inspired by Erich Fromm’s comment that, “if people are not aware of the direction in which they are going, they will awaken when it is too late and when their fate has been irrevocably sealed.”
Prior to coming to Penn I completed an MA from the department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and an MSIS from the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. I have worked as a librarian for many years – most recently as a reference librarian at the Center for Jewish History, though I have also worked for the New York Public Library and as a librarian in Zucotti Park.
"Waiting for Midnight: Risk Perception and the Millennium Bug." in Abstractions and Embodiments: New Histories of Computing and Society (eds. Janet Abbate and Stephanie Dick). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univeristy Press, 2022.
"The Lamp and the Lighthouse: Joseph Weizenbaum, contextualizing the critic." Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 46, no. 1-2 (Mar 2021), 19-35.
"The Y2K Story." CNN. December 18, 2020. (I'm interviewed in this 8 part webseries about Y2K)
"Towards a Bright Mountain: Laudato Si' and the Critique of Technology." in Care for the World: Laudato Si' and Catholic Social Thought in an Era of Climate Crisis. Ed. Frank Pasquale. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
"From Megatechnic Bribe to Megatechnic Blackmail: Mumford's 'Megamachine' After the Digital Turn." Boundary 2: Digital Studies. 2018.
"The Hashtag Comes First: Jacques Ellul and Occupy Wall Street." in Political Illusion and Reality: Engaging the Prophetic Insights of Jacques Ellul. (eds. David W. Gill and David Lovekin). Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2018.
"Introduction." in Islands in the Cyberstream: Seeking Havens of Reason in a Programmed Society. Joseph Weizenbaum and Gunna Wendt. Sacramento: Litwin Books, 2015.