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The night of the bug: technology, risk and (dis)organization at the fin de siecle

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2008
JournalManagement and Organizational History
Journal number3-4
Volume3
Number of pages21
Pages289-309
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Euro-American forms of social organization are increasingly performed via ever more intricate computer systems and networks. Against this backdrop, the corrosive spectre of computer failure has assumed the role of the ‘network society’s dreaded other, the harbinger of dis-organization and dis-order.At the close of the twentieth century anxiety over the probable effects and consequences of the so-called ‘Millennium Bug’ provided a stark contrast to the then prevailing internet euphoria.This article suggests that the Bug, and the extensive (and costly) efforts that were dedicated to its extermination, provide us with a useful illustration of the ways in which IT applications have been used to think and enact particular, historically and culturally situated, notions of (human and technological) agency, organization, manageability and expertise.