Reviews Cybernetic Revolutionaries

“Cybernetic Revolutionaries is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of cybernetics or the intersection of computer technology and politics.”

HOWARD RHEINGOLD, critic and author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

“This wonderful book explores cybernetics in Allende’s Chile. In so doing, it blends social and technical issues with large-scale economic planning and the dynamic politics of the time. It is a must-read for anyone interested in this era, and for anyone interested in the incorporation of science and technology studies into historical and political discourse.”
GEOFFREY C. BOWKER, Professor and Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

“Though we forget it at our peril, cybernetics has always been a science of control as well as communication. Medina’s riveting history returns us to a moment when computers promised to liberate an entire nation. It reminds us just how appealing a cybernetic utopia can be, and how impossible to achieve.”
FRED TURNER, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

“Medina has written a wonderful, accessible book, a thorough examination of a project that generally serves as an enigmatic aside in other histories. At times it´s quite a romp, as befits a story with an extraordinary character like Beer at its heart. And it´s a splendid introduction to Beer´s thoughts, his ideals and the history of cybernetics.”
WIL WILES, Icon Magazine

“The book offers a most compelling account of an attempt to use science and technology in support of the management of a highly turbulent political process. . . . Eden’s historic account is well researched and balanced.”
RAÚL ESPEJO, Operational Director of Project Cybersyn and Director-General of the World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics

“Recomiendo fuertemente la lectura del libro, porque representa una mirada al período 1971-1973 desde la perspectiva de un singular, complejo y vanguardista proyecto tecnológico. Para los interesados en los aspectos técnicos, el libro presenta de una manera legible, hilvanada, e incluso entretenida, la numerosa y dispersa literatura acerca del proyecto. Los profesionales y estudiantes de Ingeniería/Tecnología y de Computación/Informática encontrarán en el libro un incentivo adicional a la preocupación por los aspectos sociales y políticos que deben complementar las decisiones científicas y técnicas.”
JUAN ÁLVAREZ RUBIO, Bits, Ciencia y Sociedad

“Medina has meticulously assembled an account of Project Cybersyn. . . . This book provides an account of a fascinating experiment; for Latin American and technology collections. Summing up: Recommended.”
CHOICE, Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

“S’appuyant sur des entretiens avec les protagonistes du projet Synco, l’expérience de cybernétique menée à l’échelle du Chili par le gouvernement de Salvador Allende dans les années 1970-1973, et sur des archives dissimulées à la dictature militaire, l’historienne et informaticienne Eden Medina restitue un pan méconnu de l’histoire de la technologie.”
PHILIPPE RIVIÈRE, Le Monde Diplomatique

“Eden Medina hat sich auf diese Fülle an Dimensionen eingelassen. Ihr Buch gleicht einer vielstimmigen Partitur, in der diverse Ebenen in einer dichten Narration entfaltet und quasi parallel entwickelt werden. . . . erreicht die Autorin beeindruckend dichte Beschreibungen von komplexen Konstellationen. So etwas zu schreiben ist nicht leicht.”


“If there’s a lesson in Medina’s account, it’s that the task of designing a politics into a technology is not only necessarily social and unwieldy, but best understood at the micro-level. By doing good history here, Medina has also provided something of a design brief, a guide to just how broadly and deeply designers need look when seeking to embed their work within a particular political vision.”

KEVIN HAMILTON, Computational Culture: A Journal of Software Studies

“Exhaustively researched, methodologically sophisticated, and clearly and compellingly written, Eden Medina’s Cybernetic Revolutionaries is richly deserving of the 2012 Edelstein Prize.”

EDELSTEIN PRIZE COMMITTEE, Society for the History of Technology

“Cybernetic Revolutionaries is a well-researched, insightful historical analysis of utopian computer technology and politics in Chile before, during, and after the brief presidency of Salvador Allende. Eden Medina situates the history of technology in a national framework to integrate topics and approaches from economic policies, to cybernetics and managerial ideology, international relations, and biography.”

COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM PRIZE COMMITTEE, Special Interest Group on Computers, Information and Society

“Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile (2011) tells of one aspect of Allende’s political project that is unknown to most Chileans and students of Chile’s politics—the idea of using cybernetics to help implement the socialist program…. [Medina] reminds us that technology is history written in mechanical code, of necessity a synthesis of an era but nevertheless only a compressed version of events. Her thought-provoking book gives us a new perspective on social processes and is a must for those interested in history and philosophy of sciences, communications in the age of Twitter, anthropology, and political economy.”

ADRIELA FERNÁNDEZ, Latin American Perspectives

“…gives [Project Cybersyn] the serious attention it deserves.”

WIL WILES, New York Times

“One contribution of [Medina's] work is to remind us that computer technology has been in use outside the U.S. and Western Europe for a long time, and that its history in the developing world may follow a quite different path.”

TOM HAIGH, Communications of the ACM

“The story of Allende’s Chile has since become an integral part of the narrative of the Left for several generations of activists. Yet much of the complexity of the story is still to be told, and the new book by Eden Medina provides a welcome addition to the historical account.”

JON GOODBUN, Radical Philosophy

“With Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina has provided a compelling analysis of an important chapter in the global history of cybernetics, one linking northern and southern hemispheres, and one that coincided with great political hope, then tragedy.”

NANCY ANDERSON, The British Journal for the History of Science

“This is indispensable reading for historians of Latin America and historians of technology alike.”

SUZANNE MOON, American Historical Review

“Medina’s book is a welcome addition to a small but encouraging trend: historical studies of computing outside the United States or Western Europe.”

JANET ABBATE, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences

“Eden Medina’s Cybernetic Revolutionaries is an extraordinary first book. It is a model of thorough and ambitious research, and clear, effective presentation.”

JUAN POBLETE, Revista Hispanica Moderna

“This story acts to counter the common, US-centered narrative of the development of computer networks by focusing on a relatively small South American country’s attempt to build the world’s most advanced systems of the time, the people who attempted it, and the political theater that it was set in. Medina’s informative and highly readable book does all this admirably.”

RAMESH SUBRAMANIAN, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

Cybernetic Revolutionaries brings together scholarly fields that still rarely overlap….Medina’s work makes a compelling case for the rewards of expanding the history of technology beyond its more common regional foci…. This book will provoke engaging discussion among graduate students in several scholarly fields and is sure to inspire new investigations into Latin American sociotechnical systems.”

EVE BUCKLEY, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Although Cybernetic Revolutionaries’ major contribution is in the field of technology and its impact on political and social projects, the book is also of great interest to those who specialize in business history….Medina’s book, despite studying a failed experiment, offers important insights on state participation in the processes of innovation and development in the [Latin American] region.”

MARTIN MONSALVE-ZANATTI, Business History Review

“…well researched and properly contextualized…this book offers a compelling account of the difficulties and contradictions built into a visionary use of science and technology to support a highly turbulent political process.”


Cybernetic Revolutionaries es un texto importante para conocer la historia del período de la Unidad Popular y, en general, para aproximarse a las complejidades de la relación entre ciencia y técnica.”

JOAQUÍN FERNÁNDEZ ABARA, Revista de Gestión Pública

“El estudio de Eden Medina demuestra lo significativo y necesario de estudiar el papel de la tecnología en la historia política y cómo ella también es integrada por factores sociales y culturales. Siguiendo esta premisa, Cybernetic Revolutionaries nos ofrece la posibilidad de profundizar en un episodio fundamental en la historia chilena, a través de los conceptos teóricos de la historia y sociología de la tecnología.”


Revolucionarios Cibernéticos, la extraordinaria crónica de una aventura tecnológica y política sin precendentes ocurrida en medio del proyecto socialista de Salvador Allende.

MATÍAS WOLFF, Revista Pléyade

“This is a very important book…. Medina gives us new paths to understand Latin American recent history.”

BOOK PRIZE C0MMITTEE, Recent History and Memory Section of the Latin American Studies Association

“Cibernéticos revolucionarios constituye una lectura fascinante, de gran provecho no sólo para aquellos atraídos por la historia de la tecnología o la historia política reciente de Chile, sino para cualquier lector interesado en la historia contemporánea de América Latina.”

JOSEP SIMON, Historia Crítica

“…un texto imperdible.”