Ricky Wichum

Ricky Wichum

+41 44 632 75 08

Current Projects

Research Interests

  • History of Computing
  • Sociology of (In-)Security
  • Social Theory

New Publications


Ricky Wichum received his PhD from the University of Freiburg (2015) and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS) in Lüneburg before joining ETH Zurich. As a sociologist who teaches the History of Technology, he is particularly interested in the coevolution of technology and society. In his first book, "Biometrie. Zur Soziologie der Identifikation" (2017), Ricky examines biometric identification technologies as a promise to solve control problems of liberal societies. The monograph "Simulation for All. Supercomputing in Stuttgart" (2021) (with David Gugerli) analyzes how supercomputing has evolved through continuous reconfiguration of computing, science, industry, and politics.

Ricky Wichum has published in the field of security research, e.g., about contemporary diagnoses of postmodern insecurities or on Michel Foucault's security dispositif. In the History of Computing, an essay on the emergence of digital federalism (with David Gugerli) has been published.

Ricky was a Junior Fellow at MECS (2013/14) and received a grant from the FAZIT Stiftung to finish his doctoral thesis (June 2014-February 2015). In January 2017, he was an academic guest at the Chair of History of Technology, ETH Zurich. From November 2017 - December 2020, Ricky was a research associate at the Collegium Helveticum (fellow period on "Digital Societies"). In April 2022, he was an academic guest at the Department for Communication, University of Copenhagen. In the Fall Semester 2023, Ricky was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society (CSTMS) at the University of California, Berkeley.

Publications (Selection)

  • Ricky Wichum: Der Computer als Maschine in Niklas Luhmanns Systemtheorie der Verwaltung der 1960er Jahre. In: Soziale Systeme 25 (1) 2020, 226 – 233.
  • Ricky Wichum, Daniela Zetti (Hg.): Zur Geschichte des digitalen Zeitalters. Geschichte des digitalen Zeitalters. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2022.
  • Ricky Wichum, Daniela Zetti: Transformation. Die Erfahrung der Ankündigung von Wandel und Veränderung. In: Ricky Wichum, Daniela Zetti (Hg.): Zur Geschichte des digitalen Zeitalters. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2022, 1 – 11.
  • David Gugerli, Ricky Wichum: Supercomputing and the emergence of digital federalism. In: Paolo Bory, Daniela Zetti (Hg.): Digital Federalism - Information, Institutions, Infrastructures (1950–2000). Basel: Schwabe 2022, 117 – 140.
  • Ricky Wichum: Bürokratie. Niklas Luhmann: Theorie der Verwaltungswissenschaft (1966). In: Monika Wulz, Max Stadler, Nils Güttler, Fabian Grütter (Hg.): Deregulation und Restauration. Eine politische Wissensgeschichte. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz 2021, 90 – 103.
  • Ricky Wichum: Auf der Schwelle. Die Systemtheorie Niklas Luhmanns, die Kybernetik und der Computer um 1970. In: Alfred Nordmann, Alexander Friedrich, Petra Gehring, Christoph Hubig, Andreas Kaminski, Alfred Nordmann (Hg.): Steuern und Regeln. Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie 2019 /. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2019, 85 – 101.
  • Ricky Wichum: Verwaltungsrecht und Automation um 1960. In: Dennis-Kenji Kipker, Matthias Kopp, Peter Wiersbinski, Jan-Christoph Marschelke, Falk Hamann, Martin Weichold (Hg.): Der normative Druck des Faktischen: Technologische Herausforderungen des Rechts und seine Fundierung in sozialer Praxis. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2019, 69 – 87.

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ETH Zurich (in German)

Digital Nature and the Naturality of the Digital (Spring Semester 2024)

Digital Government since 1950 (Spring Semester 2023; with David Gugerli)

Student Colloquium for Master´s Thesis (Spring Semester 2022; Spring Semester 2021; with Eleonora Sammarchi)

Introduction to the History of Technology: Concepts and Current Debates (Autumn Semester 2021; with Rachele Delucchi)

Theory and Methodology of History and Philosophy of Knowledge (Autumn Semester 2021; with Rachele Delucchi)

A History of Personal Computing (Spring Semester 2021; with Mirjam Mayer)

Digital Humanities – Computing in the Humanities (Autumn Semester 2020)

WebClass Introductury Course History of Technology 3.0 (Autumn Semester 2019; with Gisela Hürlimann)

Factory, Laboratory, or Platform? Organizing High Performance Computing since the 1960s (Spring Semester 2019; with
David Gugerli)

Search Histories. Digging into Web Histories (Autumn Semester 2018; with Daniela Zetti)

Privacy in the Digital Society (Spring Semester 2018)

Conference Papers and Invited Talks (Selection)

Organization of Workshops and Conferences (Selection)

  • "Digital Democracy Sphere", Workshop Series in the Spring Semester 2023, ETH Zurich (co-organized with Margarita Boenig-Liptsin)
  • IDEA League Summer School "Trajectories of Technology", 5-9 September 2022, RWTH Aachen (with Gabriele Gramelsberger and Daniela Zetti)
  • IDEA League Summer School "Infrastructures of Science", 13-17 July 2020, Filzbach, ETH Zurich (with Daniela Zetti and Gabriele Gramelsberger)
  • Workshop Research Network “Computer, Administration, and History, Vol. 4”, 20-21 November 2019, ETH Zurich (with Nick Schwery)
  • International Conference “Agent Cultures and Zombielands. Fields, Fictions, and Futures of Agent-Based Modeling”, 23-25 June 2016, Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS), University of Lüneburg (with Sebastian Vehlken)