Radical Machines: Chinese Computing and the Future of Writing

Chinese Typewriter

Join Studio Chi, the Department of History, and the Chinese Studies Program for “Radical Machines: Chinese Computing and the Future of Writing,” a lecture by Stanford professor and award-winning writer Dr. Thomas Mullaney, on

Wednesday, September 20 @ 5PM
DePaul McGowan South 108
1110 W Belden Ave
Chicago, IL 60614


John Shanahan says of Mullaney’s work: “It is about writing, reading, and changing interfaces. His book is getting a lot of attention because he has shown how much the history of the mobile phone interface had little-known global roots. Mullaney’s path-breaking scholarship has excavated an untold history of, for instance, how Chinese computer engineers in the 1950s and 1960s pioneered ‘predictive text input’ – i.e. the interface we use on our phones every day, and – we thought – only a decade or so old. (Briefly: without an alphabet, the Chinese system had to find a way to get to the roman alphabetic symbols in order to use keys and developed rules and short-cuts to do so … I could go on. A fascinating topic.)”

Learn more!


Emoji Dick: Prequels and Sequels

Gitelman Emoji Dick.jpg

Emoji Dick is a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji. Each of the book’s approximately 10,000 sentences has been translated three times by a Amazon Mechanical Turk worker. These results have been voted upon by another set of workers, and the most popular version of each sentence has been selected for inclusion in this book. In total, over eight hundred people spent approximately 3,795,980 seconds working to create this book. Each worker was paid five cents per translation and two cents per vote per translation. The funds to pay the Amazon Turk workers and print the initial run of this book were raised from eighty-three people over the course of thirty days using the funding platform Kickstarter.