As a journalist I often write about information technology... so here goes; a 'nerdy' post.
Critical computing is a political approach to software development. What is particularly 'political' about this programming philosophy is the argument that end-users should have a major say in the development process - not because user input generates more marketable products, but rather out of concern for the users: Those who will actually use the system should decide the system design, because they know best how their needs can be accommodated. The critical computing tradition also opposes all sorts of 'data snatching', e.g. company web pages logging information about its users, and argues that systems should be transparent and put users in charge of their own data. The tradition is, to my knowledge, Nordic and has its roots in the 1970s.
Today I came across 'Blackle', perhaps not an example of critical programming, but certainly a project of some political motivation. It is simply a black version of the Google start page. The programmers describe their project in this way:
"In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.
We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. Secondly we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy."