Seeing that I have no background knowledge in computer science or basic operating systems, it was somewhat challenging for me to try and make sense of McPherson’s article and come up with my own informed opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, here I go…
McPherson makes the argument that basic operating systems and computing capabilities are a reflection of the societal concerns and racial tensions of the time. I would partially have to disagree with McPherson. Although this may have been true at the time, I would argue that today, operating systems and computing technology is more of a response to societal issues in an attempt to help even the playing field. We now have a ride range of technological utilities that go beyond the average method of computing.
McPherson claims that the second half of the twentieth century “increasingly hides its racial “kernel,” burying it below a shell of neo-liberal pluralism” (29). Here she uses an illustration to argue that the core of societies problems is hidden behind a veil of political idealism and a false sense of “diversity”. As a result these issues are then reflected in methods of computing.
In some ways, I would agree with McPherson in saying it would be naïve to think that computing technology and the organization behind operating systems would not be adversely affected by societal dilemmas. However, I also think that she is making a blanket statement by implying that all operating systems have a certain aspect of rigidity that reflects the racial tension and negative aspects of society.
Globalization and the advancement in technology over the past 2 or 3 decades has broadened and further improved methods of computation to host a variety of basic operating systems. Today, with cloud technology and a host of devices with different operating systems, we have surpassed the rigid and discriminatory methods that McPherson is referring to.
Here is an example of how computing and operating systems has developed over time: