Technological Turf Wars: A Case Study of the Computer Antivirus Industry

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In Technological Turf Wars, Jessica Johnston analyzes the tensions and political dilemmas that coexist in the interrelationship among science, technology and society. Illustrating how computer security is as concerned with social relationships as it is with technology, Johnston provides an illuminating ethnography that considers corporate culture and the workplace environment of the antivirus industry.

Using a qualitative, interdisciplinary approach, which combines organizational and security studies with critical and social analysis of science and technology, Johnston questions the motivations, contradictions and negotiations of antivirus professionals. She examines the tensions between the service ethics and profit motives—does the industry release viruses to generate demand for antivirus software?—and considers the dynamics within companies by looking at facets such as gender bias and power politics. Technological Turf Wars is an informed, enlightened and entertaining view of how the production of computer security technology is fraught with social issues.

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About the Author:

Jessica Johnston is a senior lecturer and head of the American Studies program at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She is the author of The American Body in Context.

Review:

"Johnston presents the ways antivirus workers think in fascinating detail. She is very astute and effective in analyzing and explicating the underlying assumptions of their logic. Technological Turf Wars is insightful, interesting, and it unfolds in ways that are quite surprising. Johnston demonstrates that this industry is as much a social world as it is a technical world."
John L. Caughey, Professor of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park

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