Computer Love
In the 1980s, people became infatuated with glowing consoles and purring hard drives. The computer itself was an exciting new love object: a shiny new toy, a portal to other dimensions, a potentially autonomous creature—more pet than appliance. In addition to loving their computers, people dreamed about the ways computers would mediate and change love itself. This talk chronicles these dreams and feelings, investigating the culture that sprung up around this new material artifact. How can we recover a way of thinking about intimacy during the time of the PC’s mainstreaming that is historically accurate? Computers didn’t always feel as dehumanizing as they do right now; there was a time when in fact computers felt deeply humanizing. Revisiting this time offers a pre-history of our present moment and an alternative to our contemporary frustration with computers. “Computer Love” is an attempt to explain the popular love stories that helped people in the 80s make sense of a new technology, and to remind us that in the realm of technology, love can help us create better tools.