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Technology as racial exploitation in 'Black Gooey Universe'

Technology as racial exploitation in 'Black Gooey Universe'
From Engadget - February 12, 2018

Early computers were developed by and for programmers to do a variety of specific tasks and featured black screens with white or green text. All of that changed following the "mother of all demos" that introduced the mouse and graphics user interface, aka the GUI or "gooey." "Between the Xerox Alto and Apple Lisa, the negative space of the screen began to appear white, replacing the black command-line interface used on computers prior to that," American Artist notes.

That tech was ultimately simplified and popularized by Apple, which introduced it to the world in 1979 with the world's first "GUI" (graphical user interface) computer, the Apple Lisa. That idea has been carried forward, and highly refined, to the smartphones of today.

The skeuomorphic interface puts a friendly face on computing, but has the effect of obscuring the complex technology and history behind it. Its development has created a shorthand communication system between humans and machines, as conceived by the mostly straight and white males in Silicon Valley. That, the artist believes, has been problematic and serves as an analogy for the history for America's history of race relations.

"Racial Slavery -- which generated Blackness as a site of permanent extraction, gratuitous physical violence, and social death -- provided the material and ideological basis for the United States," writes American Artist. "Unsurprisingly, Silicon Valley advances this constitutive anti-blackness through its technological products and processes."

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