Writings on Norbert Wiener

Norbert Wiener’s works are becoming more difficult to find. Here are several that may still be available.

darkhero

Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics
Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman (New York: Basic Books, 2005/2006).

The most recent biography, addresses the complexity of Wiener’s life and work.

 

 

 

John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener

John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From mathematics to the technologies of life and death
Steve J. Heims (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980).

The writer’s critical perspective regarding military technology leads to a co-biography supportive of Wiener but not of von Neumann.

 

 

 

Cybernetic RevolutionariesCybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and politics in Allende’s Chile
E. Medina 
(Cambridge MA: MIT Press 2011).

Wiener dubbed Stafford Beer the father of management cybernetics. This book describes Beer’s participation in Project Cybersyn, a unique experiment in technology and management undertaken by Chile’s Allende government in the early 1970s.

 

 

Newspeak to CyberspeakFrom Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of  Digital Utopianism
Fred Turner (U of Chicago Press, 2006).

Fred Turner convincingly portrays a cadre of journalists who strove to transform the idea of the computer from a threat to personal freedom in the cold war into a means to such freedom in an emerging digital utopia.

 

 

Newspeak to CyberspeakFrom Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A history of Soviet cybernetics
S. Gerovitch (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).

Given the parallel between Wiener and Kolmogorov’s mathematical work, it is interesting to see that cybernetics was entwined with the opening up of Soviet science from the mid-1950s.

 

 

 

Virtual Bodies publctn imageHow we became posthuman: Virtual bodies in cybernetic, literature and informatics
N.K. Hayles (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Considering the concept of ‘human and machine’ from a non-technical perspective.

 

 

 

NW Vita Mathematica

Norbert Wiener 1894-1964
P.R. Masani (Boston: Virkhauser Verlag, 1990,Vita Mathematica Vol 5).

A mathematician’s biography written by a long-time collaborator, who edited Wiener’s collected works.

 

 

 

 

DH Not So fast_Thinking Twice about Technology Not So Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology
Doug Hill

“Technology is a two-edged sword, and sooner or later it will cut you deep.” –  Norbert Wiener

“This is the technology criticism I’ve been waiting for. Not So Fast is readable, meticulously sourced, and, above all – nuanced. I recommend it for technology critics and enthusiasts alike.”
– Howard Rheingold, author of Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs and Net Smart 

 

The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties

The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties
Fred Turner (U of Chicago Press, 2014).

Some of the most well-known artists and intellectuals of the ’40s developed new models of media, theories of interpersonal and international collaboration, and visions of a democratic self in contrast to the repression and conformity associated with the fascist and communist movements.

 

 

Front La Cybernetique

 

Norbert Wiener, La cybernétique, French translation of Cybernetics by
R. Le Roux, R. et N. Vallée (Paris: Seuil, 2014).
The seminal work, at last available in French!

 

 

 

 

Front of Les Reves Cybernetiques

 

 

Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Les rêveries cybernétiques de Norbert Wiener
(Paris: Seuil, 2014)
A highly original essay on Wiener’s thought, based on his unpublished fictional writings.

 

 

 

Front of Cybernetique et Societe

 

Norbert Wiener, Cybernétique et société, French translation of The Human Use of Human Beings by P.-Y. Mistoulon (Paris: Seuil, 2014).

 

 

 

 

 


NW Notes

Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, authors of the Wiener biography Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics (New York: Basic Books, 2005/2006), have prepared a series, “Some Notes on…”, for the conference:

“Some Notes on Norbert Wiener’s Views of Secrecy in Science, Intellectual Property, and the Value of Information”

“Some Notes on the Origins of Cybernetics, Interdisciplinary Models, and Norbert Wiener’s Work in the Life Sciences and the Social Sciences”

“Some Notes on Wiener’s Concerns about the Social Impact of Cybernetics, the Effects of Automation on Labor, and The Human Use of Human Beings” 

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