The University of Illinois Archives was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a prototype web-portal and analysis-engine to provide access to archival material related to the development of the iconic, multi-disciplinary field of cybernetics. The grant is part of the NEH’s Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations program. “The Cybernetics Thought Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project” is a collaborative effort among several academic units at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) and three other institutions that also maintain archival records vital to the exploration of cybernetic history: the British Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In addition to supporting the development of a web-portal and analysis-engine, the award enabled the multi-institutional team to begin digitizing some of the archival records related to the pioneering work of U of I Electrical Engineering Professor Heinz von Foerster and his fellow cyberneticians W. Ross Ashby, Warren S. McCulloch, and Norbert Wiener. This portal creates access to portions of the personal archives of Heinz von Foerster, W. Ross Ashby, Warren S. McCulloch, and Norbert Wiener through the University of Illinois Digital Library and through visualizations that show connections between people, cybernetic subjects, and documents. This site is intended to be a prototype and not a fully functional portal – we hope to grow this site into a more fulsome resource over time.
“The Cybernetics Thought Collective: A History of Science and Technology Portal Project” has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor