What does Chun mean when she describes computers as "ideology machines"?

When Wendy Hui Kyong Chun describes computers as "ideology machines," she means that computer software creates false consciousness, which directs the user to think in a certain way in order to interact with the hardware.

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Wendy Hui Kyong Chun's description of computers as "ideology machines" in her essay "On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge" depends on her conception of ideology as "false consciousness." To explain this, Chun uses the analogy of The Matrix, a film in which what appears to be real life is, in fact, a computer simulation. When one uses a computer, Chun points out, one automatically accepts that the software uses a similar false consciousness to allow the user to interface with the hardware. You sort your work into folders and place it on a desktop, but neither folders nor desktop have any physical reality. They are constructs which allow you to use the computer more easily.

Chun's image can perhaps be more easily understood if it is reversed. You might see the ideologies you accept as true as the software your brain is running. This does not manifest in any way in the physical world; it does, however, affect the way in which you see everything and the ways in which you interact with the world. Chun points out that computer games produced in a particular country will inevitably reflect the ideology of that country and that the way in which a computer's software directs you to think in a certain way also mirrors the way in which ideology does so.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 23, 2021
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