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Venerating the Black Box: Magic in Media Discourse on Technology

William A. Stahl
Science, Technology, & Human Values
Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 1995), pp. 234-258
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/689992
Page Count: 25
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Venerating the Black Box: Magic in Media Discourse on Technology
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Abstract

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The language of magic is evident in much of popular discourse about computers. A content analysis of Time magazine reporting on computers and related technologies over a ten-year period revealed that 36 percent of all these stories used explicitly magical or religious language. Together with a qualitative analysis of implicitly magical themes, the patterns in Time's reporting reveal how magic language was used as one strategy to stabilize and close the technological frame of personal computers in the mid-1980s.

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