RESPONSE TO TERA MCPHERSON’S ESSAY

January 16, 2016

In the essay “U.S. Operating Systems at Mid-Century: The Intertwining of Race and Unix” by Tera Mcpherson, uses man-made operating system Unix and the social construction of race and pretty much compares the two. She uses these comparisons to help clarify the issue and find solutions for the profound racial problems that have been around for years. As she unravels this issue, Mcpherson brings up the term modular knowledge. I think what Mcpherson means by modular knowledge is the construction of knowledge that is produced in a way that is more transparent. She claims that “MULTICS introduced early ideas about modularity in hardware and structure and software architecture” and basically affirms that racism is something that is replaceable by force. I believe that can be true. Take for example Hitler and his ridiculous desires to erase all the Jews. I think this relates to technology because when it comes to operating systems and removing a building block of software, it requires a higher authority, which is essentially the user of the operating system. The building blocks of software can’t delete or replace one another because they don’t have the intelligence or authority to do something like that. These same concepts are what distinguish man from the man made technology. Now going back to the operating system, if a racial group wants to erase another group, they will have to go to a higher authority (one that is inhumane) other than those who object this idea of elimination in order to do that.

This was a very interesting read for me. I have never seen the connection of race and technology until reading this chapter. I couldn’t quite understand Mcpherson’s essay in its entirety at first, but after reading it again, it allowed me to reflect and identify certain connections and disconnections. When you truly think about it, we as people are biologically built the same way-just like the building blocks of softwares and operating systems, but we are so different individually. We can’t replicate someone and therefore experiences, time, space and the sheer fact that no human is born purely for one function only, dismisses us from that notion as well.

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