My networked Valentine: half a century of love and computers

Computers are personal technologies, so it comes as no surprise that we vest them with so many of our personal aspirations and desires. Take love for instance: the quest for a partner is so central to our existence, that we would do anything to make it more effective. So we turn to those technologies that, in our cultural imaginary, “connect” people. And we ask them to show us their magic. Three exemples taken from our musical mainstream can help us understand how, as the role of communication technologies has been changing over almost 50 years, the way we put trust in them to fix our love life has changed too.

  1. France Gall was a French teenage sensation who rose to continental stardom when she won the Eurovision contest. In this 1968 song, Computer Nr. 3 (in German), she asks an “electronic brain” to match her with the “perfect boy”. Post-WWII computers were still surrounded by this aura of scientific precision. France Gall maintains the “calculator” can be a support for her relationship, but only as far as its “logs” are in order. A very techno-deterministic take on love. Here the calculating machine oversees the relationship, framed into a bourgeois pursuit of happiness in the company of a rich and handsome husband.