After Class Writing: Nofre, Priestley, and Alberts’ “When Technology Became Language”



Before our next class, write and post a comment of at least 250 words summarizing your reading and today’s lecture on the reading titled “When Technology Became Language.”

11 thoughts on “After Class Writing: Nofre, Priestley, and Alberts’ “When Technology Became Language””

  1. David Nofre is an independent scholar who is very interested in the history of computer science. He was a PhD student at the Autonomous University of Barcelona from June 2003 to January 2006 in the department of Centre for History of Science Studies. He later had a Postdoc position at the University of Amsterdam from February 2008 to October 2011 in the department of Theory of Computer Science. Mark Priestley received his BA from Oxford University in Mathematics and Philosophy, he received his PGCE from the Institute of Education in London in teaching qualification in mathematics at secondary school level. He later received his MSc from Birkbeck College in database and information systems and went on to receive his PhD in the University College London in Thesis title: Logic and the development of programming languages. He is currently a freelancer writer and historian of computing. Gerard Alberts is a professor at the University of Amsterdam where he teaches the history of mathematics and computer science. He specializes in the history of quantification and rationalization in the twentieth century. He is currently a faculty member of science. Together, Nofre, Priestley and Alberts worked together and wrote an essay called “When Technology Became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Computer Programming, 1950-1960.” In this essay they discuss how the word language came to integrate into the programing world in which we now say programming language. The word language was used metaphorically in connection with computers. It has its own verbs and nouns. Programming can be described as a “form of communication, involving translation from human language into “the language the machine can understand.” This definition was described by specialists Arthur Burks and George Stibitz. If one language can be translated into another then why not one computer code have be translated to another? Attempts were made to create a universal language for all machines to use and compile. One example of the coding systems is FORTAN which stands for FORmula TRANslation and its goal was to allow it to do mathematical notation. Specifically the creators wanted algebraic formulas to be used directly in the programs that were used by computers. But it was realized that it might not be possible since each machine has different hardware that isn’t compatible with the code and only certain machines might be able to use the code. Something that we must remember is that just because the word language is used in programming, it doesn’t make it a language like English, Spanish, etc. because we don’t communicate with one another speaking computer code. These authors show us how the use of language has had a huge impact on hardware and software.

  2. Nofre, Priestley, and Alberts’ “When Technology Became Language” discussed how first digitals data are made around the age of second World War. Those data form the concept of the computer language of the cybernetic discourse and it was compared metaphorically the human language. Three of them argues that different kinds of systems, programmers who work to bridge, across the platform that can compile into an expendable system. Such extent involves robots coded with the piles of computer language. From the basic to complex, from 1 and 0 to the formalized logic or the question of consciousness. By bringing the natural language to the computer program, the coded computer works in a formalized logic. Formalized logic is the opposite way of the question of consciousness, it only helps the robot corresponds to the computer language, which means it only functions based on it. Language from us can be formed from consciousness, but the robot is unable to do so. Computer language isn’t any way similar compared to the human language itself. Computer language isn’t robust. Technologist informs we should comprehend the basics of it. It’s the concept of programming. “We shape our tool, and thereafter our tools reshape us” by Marshall McLuhan has provided us the concept of correspondence feedback. When technology becomes the language, the language could shape the robot in an unimaginable way which will reshape our society. In class, we mentioned several different robots around nowadays, which can understand and function with reactions with its computer language. As a result, these three people have infiltrated deep down among our culture.

  3. Nofre, Priestley, and Alberts’ article,” When Technology Became Language.” sheds light on how a language system became a part of the computer science industry in the 1950’s. They proclaimed that language has an abstract meaning and in this case the language that people in this industry were dealing with is a combination of logic and linguistics. As programmers started to type out computer code they would figure out ways to transfer this code from one machine to another, the same way languages become universal around the world. They argued that the masses take the linguistics nature of programming for granted. Sure we are thankful for things programming has brought us in the last 50 years, but we do not consider how these computers and machines understand the code in the first place and performed the commands in the code. They mentioned George Stibitz, a mathematician and developer, who described process the computing machine go through to understand code as being able to comprehend mathematical language, decipher it, and correct itself if necessary this is similar to how writers try to understand concepts and describe them in their own words. When we place code into a computer or machine we are placing our own language into it and it understands it through a process called formalized logic. This process acts like the human consciousness in humans and perform the instructions in the code. Many media theorist such as Kittler and McLuhan stated that the media does something to us and it folds part of our lives into its own operation. Coding is the language for machines and the language helps us and the machine communicate with each other, despite code not having the robust features written or oral languages may have.

  4. David Nofre, Mark Priestley, and Gerard Alberts collaborated to write “When technology became language: the origins of the linguistic conception of computer programming, 1950 – 1960”. Nofre has a background in computer science; Priestley has a background in computer and technology studies, and Alberts has a background in mathematics and computer science. Their piece examines how the advent of the commercial computer in the 1950s inspired a more universal “language” that could be used with computers. They also examine what led to the point at which a universal computer language would be necessary.

    The origin of computers dates back to a time long before the mid-twentieth century. An example is Babbage’s analytical engine, a calculator of sorts. In terms of calculating, one could go back even to the abacus, a Chinese invention from around 500 B.C.E. The authors also discuss the tendency or people to anthropomorphize technology throughout history: scientists were calling computers (calculators) “robots” and “giant brains” in the 1940s. Even now, we see our phones, laptops, iPods, etc. as warm extensions of us, not just cold metal or plastic.

    World War II precipitated the development of the first modern computers, and it was out of this era that the commercialization of computers began to flourish. Industrial production of different kinds of computers led to a gap in communication amongst them. To bridge the compatibility gap from one computer system to another, it became necessary to try and standardize, or make universal, a computer language. Compilers were developed to translate lower level code into a readable language (higher form of programming) for the computers, and from language back to machine code.

    They use the term “language”, as it is used in the context of computer language, in a metaphorical sense. Computer programming languages do not have the traditional composition of a spoken or written language that is used by and for humans to communicate with one another. While programming languages are used to complete tasks, they do not possess the same syntactic, grammatical, or conversational components as a traditional language. Nevertheless, the higher form of programming adapted linguistic forms and patterns to incorporate the formal logic behind computer language. And in a certain way, computer language does have its own lexicon, syntax, grammar, and structure, and we define meaning to what would otherwise be arbitrary in computers also. As Fromkin noted, traditional language is arbitrary. We assign a word or signifier to a sound, the signified, and only then do we derive meaning from it. In the same way, we may create a variable, or signifier, in a programming language, and then assign it a value, or the signified, so that the computer knows how to assign meaning to it.

    As we discussed in Manovich’s first rule, the lower level layer behind all computing is algorithmic in nature (the 1s and 0s). Computers work best with simple tasks; they don’t do well with multiple, complex tasks. Algorithmic thinking helps the computer understand the language commands by breaking it down into small parts. The language that impacted computers’ hardware and software through computer programming stemmed from algorithmic thinking. Algorithmic thinking can be applied to other concepts as well, such as in problem solving or in learning to code.

  5. David Nofre is a history of computer science scholar from the Netherlands. Mark Priestley is a history educator as well as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Stirling Network for Curriculum Studies director. Gerard Alberts is a Science, Mathematics and Computer Science faculty member at the Korteweg-de Vries Institute. Nofre, Priestley, and Alberts each contributed to “When Technology became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Computer Programming.” This work is a metaphoric statement. Computer programming, by Fromkin’s understanding, is not a regular syntax language. This concept lacks the qualifications to be described as a language.
    This computer programming uses coding and algorithmic numbers to represent the data to simply direct the computer to perform an action. It is vital to understand the archaeology of media development as well as the ascribing qualities beyond the physical aspects of computer’s metal material. Unlike syntax language, this programming allowed people to understand the correlation between the objects and message it wishes to convey. Some of these communications can be interactive. These authors explain how language usage has had a profound impact on computer hardware.In addition, the software has also programmed language use as a machine-independent activity. Technology can have the ability to communicate solely through this technique. Education of programming has made individuals able to apply concepts to other concerns. An interesting example, which I use occasionally, is posing an image on the social media outlet Instagram. This will create a post on a buddy social media known as Facebook. This represents the connections created by computers using the computer programming language. This design has created multitude interactions with individuals.
    In class, Professor Ellis provided two examples to represent human interaction with technology. One example was Honda’s 2004 Asimo(a robot) demonstration at Georgia Tech.This meet and greet allowed interaction between designers, the development team, and the school’s community. Another example included Aibo, a robotic dog. This scenario was about a child treating Aibo as a real dog, although the batteries were dead. Both examples represent the bond that people hold with material objects. This the same way individuals today are “married” to their smartphones.
    I found this reading interesting because I often do not appreciate how media and technology have affected daily living. Taking a moment to just view how the world interacts with new media makes me realize how much history lies behind these metal objects.

  6. Matthias Dörries contended that researchers reliably stretch allegories as far as possible, investigating their potential both as a method for considering and as informative tools. This was additionally the case for the language analogy in PC programming. This article has sketched out some key parts of the family history of the term programming language. We started by taking note of what the utilization of programmed computerized PCs was, from the earliest starting point, comprehended as an informative connection between two self-sufficient substances instead of as a latent relationship of arrangement. We indicated how this relationship showed itself in, particularly phonetic terms with, at its heart, the idea of interpretation amongst human and machine languages.
    Language is one of the focal representations around which the teaching of software engineering has been constructed. The language allegory entered present-day processing as a feature of a computerized talk, yet amid the second 50% of the 1950s gained a unique significance, firmly identified with the formal languages of rationale and etymology. The article contends that this change was identified with the presence of the business PC in the mid-1950s. Directors of figuring establishments and authorities on PC programming in scholastic PC focus stood up to with an expanding assortment of machines, required the formation of “normal” or “widespread languages” to empower the movement of PC code from machine to machine. At last, the article demonstrates how the possibility of a widespread language was a definitive advance in the rise of programming languages, in the acknowledgment of PC programming as an appropriate field of information, and in the long run in the way we think about the PC.
    The thought of a programming language, which is associated with the possibility of all-inclusiveness, wound up an integral to this activity of limit work that tried to separate the movement of programming from neighborhood traditions, and to change it into an extraordinary and all-inclusive group of information. From this undertaking, programming languages and calculations rose as epistemic items stripped of any imprints that would connect them with particular equipment. In the 1960s, as Brent Jesiek has noted, programming languages and calculations would pick up perpetually significance in the plan of the scholastic educational module as a major aspect of PC researchers’ endeavors to protect their incipient train from quick mechanical development. To what point this procedure succeeded is an inquiry that merits encourage discourse. The ascent of programming building in the mid-1970s and the presence of a developing group of software engineers with no expert preparing are only two indications of the confinements of this plan. In any case, the origination of PC writing computer programs was setting down deep roots, giving a particular vocabulary, new classes of issues and even logical ideal models for the developing field of software engineering, and, a large portion of all, going about as an “island of semantic solidness” in a quickly changing mechanical environment.

  7. Jessica L. Roman
    ENG 1710

    David Nofre is an independent scholar with a focus on the history of computer science; Gerard Alberts is a professor at the University of Amsterdam who also has a focus on the history of computer science and Mark Priestley is a freelance writer and historian of computing. In their article, “When Technology Became Language”, they chart the use of the language as a way to express computer programming. Initially the term language was used metaphorically to better explain the communication required to program and interact with a computer. For instance, they mention that math was referred to as the grammar of of computer language and has its own syntax. In its metaphorical and abstract use, it is important to note that this is very different from lagauge, as we know it and as Frompkin defines it. During the history they cover, computers were all still very independently made and required their own specific language to function. There was a significant boom in the number of computers from 1950-1955.This caused an issue when computers began to become prevalent and the collaboration of systems became necessary. Programmers began to discuss how they could bridge this gap and create a universal computer language. While our language had influence on the way we discussed and formulated our communication with computer systems to do work, those computer languages also affects us. As one of the recurring themes of our class, we know that as we change our technologies our technologies change us in an infinite iterative cycle. In the case of computers, coding and programming has affected our algorithmic thinking.

  8. In today’s class we talked about the Nofre, Priestley and Alberts’, “When Technology Becomes Language”. The idea of computer language is a metaphor. We can use the computer language to communicate but we can’t use the computer to make a conversation. During the 1950s-1960s largely out of the Word War 2, when computers were made. The term “language” has been used metaphorically to describe how humans programmed computers to do work. Then we had programs worked to do programing. Layer, to be complied to make their own computer systems or programs. The higher form of programming a level machine code, which was basically numbers 0,1 or the repetition of those numbers, adapted a linguistics forms to incorporate a formal logic of language. This type of computer language does have a language syntax and other part of lexicon language which programming a computer code. Computers work of mathematical logic, it is all a lot of numbers. Trying to use mathematical forms to use and make language. The computer language is not as robust as language that is spoken by humans. In addition, we discussed the algorithmic thinking which is what we see on the news that there are programs that will teach one to code and do computer programming. Once again in reference to our previous reading and as I have learned in History of Technology class, technology is constantly changing weather the humanity wants it or not, but this technology is not only changing itself it is changing us. We create technology and technology creates all of us.

  9. ” When Technology Became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Computer Programming, 1950-1960” by David Nofre, Mark Priestley, and Gerald Alberts is a literature piece that explicates the importance on the commercial computer made in the 1950’s to inspire the language we use to communicate with computers. When they refer to language they mean the use of the coding systems use to give command to a computer. As it was mentioned in class computers follow a binary set of rules of ones and zeros, which doesn’t make the language we provide to the computer a command way to communicate however it still has a type of language a and that is what Nofre, Priestley and Alberts are trying to explain on their work. To go more over with their believe they explained that even the most complex coding system follow some type of linguistic procedure of our language.
    David Nofre was a computer scientist, Mark Priestley had a background in technology and computer studies, and Gerald Alberts was a mathematician and computer Scientist. The three of them had an extensive background in computer which allow them to explain the correlations between computer language and computer language.

  10. David Nofre, Mark Priestly, and Gerard Alberts all wrote “When Technology Became language” and discuss how computers impacted language. Computer programming language is a metaphor, you program a computer to do something, but the computer can’t use that language to communicate with you or other people. With the production of computer systems and being a programmer meant that you were a bridge between human language and the computer language. With the invention of higher level of programing as opposed to the lower levels of machine code, they adapted linguistic forms to accorporate the formal levels of computer languages. Computer languages are not robust as spoken or written languages for communication. This means that I would be impossible to communicate with some one using something like binary code or python as communication because they simply could not understand. That’s why in lower levels of computer coding you can find that you can use some English and still get the computer to do things. the use of language had a huge impact on programing language with computers for independent use because in lower levels the average person could learn how to program computers with ease because common language can be used in lower levels.

  11. Nofre, D., Priestley, M., & Alberts, G. (2014). When technology became language: the origins of the linguistic conception of computer programming.
    The origins of the linguistics conception of computer programing 1950-60’s
    The temr languae was used methporialcly to desibe how human programmed computers to work. They argues that with the industrial production of different kinds of computer systems programmer worked a bridge of programming compatibility across platforms through computer language that could be compile into appropriate compailities for different platforms.This enotre form of programming as opposed to lower level machine code-which the computer can actually understand-linguistic forms to incorporate the informal logic of computer programs. It’s important to remember that the computer language are not as robust as spoken or written languages used for communication. Nevertheless these authors explain the use of languages has had an impact of the development of computer hardware and software through programming language use as a machine independent activity. We can also think about impact. On our own algorithmic thinking why promoted tools like this and that and the proliferation of coding.
    Language as metaphor=programming.
    Computer language is a metaphor.
    Tell them how to do thing but they aren’t cohesive with people: human beings.
    Language is used metaphorically to describe how humans built computer to do work.
    Adapting linguistic forms.
    Not as robust as written and spoken language had impact of computer hard..

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