David Stearns

David Stearns vCard

Senior Lecturer
Office: Mary Gates Hall 330N
Phone: 206.221.8115

Primary Areas of Expertise

Current Quarter Teaching

  • IMT 589 - Special topics in information management
  • INFO 200 - Intellectual foundations of informatics
  • INFO 495 - Internship in informatics


David Stearns teaches courses on web development, systems analysis, monetary informatics, and the intellectual foundations of informatics. He brings to the iSchool over 15 years of professional experience in the software industry, as well as his academic research into the sociology and history of technology. He started his software career with Microsoft, working as a developer in the IT group, and then as a program manager on Visual Basic and the Office Web Components. He then went on to work as a developer and architect for several smaller companies including Televisual Data in Scotland (now part of Miles 33), LabKey Software at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, and most recently the startup company 3Meters. He took a break from software in the early 2000s to study the technology and society relationship, culminating in a PhD in Science and Technology Studies under Donald MacKenzie at the University of Edinburgh. His primary area of research is money and payment systems, especially those utilizing payment cards and mobile devices.


  • Ph D, Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh, 2008
  • BBA, Business, Information Systems, Pacific Lutheran University, 1991


  • Nominated for UW Distinguished Teaching Award - UW Center for Teaching and Learning, 2015


  • Society for the History of Technology

Secondary Areas of Expertise

Publications and Contributions


  • "The Much-Maligned Magstripe" (2014)
    Presented at: Annenberg Research Network on International Communication (ARNIC)
  • The Origins of the "Cashless Society" Vision (2014)
    Presented at: UCLA
  • "Building VISA: Origins of a Worldwide Electronic Payment System" (2013)
    Presented at: Federal Reserve
  • "What the History of VISA Can Teach Us About the Future of Money" (2013)
    Presented at: UC Irvine School of Informatics
  • "Think of it as Money: VISA and the Cashless Society" (2012)
    Presented at: University of Washington
  • "Conflicting Dreams of a Cashless Society: VISA’s Entrée and Electronic Funds Transfer" (2010)
    Presented at: Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting
  • "Networks, Boundaries, Gateways: The VISA Payment System as a Source of Industry Change" (2008)
    Presented at: Business History Conference
  • "In Plastic We Trust: Dependability and the VISA Payment System" (2006)
    Presented at: UK Dependability Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (DIRC) Conference
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