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March 27, 2014

“Although few members of this community make a direct connection with feminism, there is a convergence of intellectual values — a “revaluation of the concrete.” These challenges to the dominant epistemology are intellectually assertive and politically self-conscious. A third challenge most often presents itself as neutral and technical. It is a challenge from within computation, as when the maverick Macintosh with its iconic interface made its bid against the established IBM personal computer. That the computer should be an ally in the revaluation of the concrete has a certain irony; in both the popular and technical cultures there has been a systematic construction of the computer as the ultimate embodiment of the abstract and formal. But the computer’s intellectual personality has another side: Computers provide a context for the development of concrete thinking. When we look at particular cases of individuals programming computers, we see a concrete and personal approach to materials that runs into conflict with established ways of doing things within the computer culture. The practice of computing provides support for a pluralism that is denied by its social construction..”

Papert, S. and Turkle, S. (1990) Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete. Versions of this article appeared in the Journal of Mathematical Behavior, Vol. 11, No.1, in March, 1992, pp. 3-33; Constructionism, I. Harel & S. Papert, Eds. (Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1991), pp.161-191; and SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Autumn 1990, Vol. 16 (1).


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