Podcasts for this course can be found here
18 Jan: Introduction: Why “History of Information”?
20 Jan: Talking about information
25 Jan: Technological Determinism
- Heilbroner, Robert L. 1967. “Do Machines Make History?”, Technology and Culture. 8(3).
- Williams, Raymond. 1974. “The Technology and the Society,” pp 1-25 in Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Fontana.
27 Jan: The First Technologies of Information: Writing Systems
- Marshack, Alexander. 1999. “The Art and Symbols of Ice-Age Man,” in David Crowley, ed. Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Allyn & Bacon. Pp. 5-14
- Robinson, Andrew. 1999. “The Origins of Writing.” In David Crowley, ed. Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Allyn & Bacon. pp 36-42
1 Feb: Cultural Effects of Writing
- Havelock, Eric. “The Coming of Literate Communication to Western Culture,” in Eugene R. Kintgen, Barry M. Kroll, Mike Rose, eds. Perspectives on Literacy. Southern Illinois University, 1988. Pp. 127-134.
- Gough, Kathleen. 1968. Implications of literacy in traditional China and India. In Goody, Jack (ed.). Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 44-56.
- Scribner, Silvia and Michael Cole. 1988. “Unpackaging Literacy.” at Social Science Information, 17, 1 (1978)
- Goody, Jack, and Ian Watt. 1963. The Consequences of Literacy. Comparative Studies in Society and History 5(3), 304-345.
3 Feb: Manuscript Culture
NOTE: we are now going back to “primary texts,” texts that discuss the changes we are interested in as they happened. As you read these texts, one almost 2500 years old, the other more than 500 years old, ask yourself whether these have anything to tell us about information in the modern world. Be prepared to discuss your reactions in class. (The Trithemius is a “parallel text” with Latin facing English. Only those fluent in Latin need read the Latin pages.)
- Trithemius, Johannes. 1974 . In Praise of Scribes. R. Behrendt, ed. Lawrence, KA: Coronado Press. chapters I-III, V-VII, XIV.
- Plato. 1973 [c. 360 bce]. Phaedrus & the Seventh & Eighth Letters. W. Hamilton, trans. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp 21-26, “Prelude” pp. 95-103, “The inferiority of the written to the spoken word”, & “Recapitulation and conclusion”
8 Feb: Print culture
- Elizabeth Eisenstein, ‘The Emergence of Print Culture in the West,Journal of Communication, Winter(1980): 99-106.
- [SPCK], The History of Printing, London: SPCK, 1855, read pp 3-43
- Watch: Fry, Stephen. 2008. Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press from the series The Machine that Made Us. BBC
- Watch: Burke, James. 1985. A Matter of Fact: Printing Transforms Knowledge. From the series The Day the Universe Changed. BBC
10 Feb: Emergence of the public sphere
- Cowan, Brian. 2005. “Inventing the Coffee House” and “Penny Universities,” pp. 79-112 in The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. New Haven. Yale University Press.
- Darnton, Robert. 2000. “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” American Historical Review 105.1.
15 Feb: Scientific information & medical knowledge
- “Essay against Quacks,” The Spectator, 1712-15, vol 8, #572, pp. 85-91.
- Sprat, Thomas. 1667. pp 60-79 in The History of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge London. Read from: from p. 60 “I come now to the Second Period of my Narration…” to p. 79, “The Royal Society will become Immortal.”
- watch Anderson Cooper interview
Note: The Royal Society was founded in England in 1660. It still exists today. Last year (2010) was its 350th anniversary– and claims to be the world’s oldest scientific society. Thomas Sprat (1635-1713), the author of the work you have to read, was a student of one of the founders. He joined the Society in 1663 and was asked to write the Society’s history. In this book, then, we have a contemporary, insider’s account of the founding of a very influential society, one that people argue was at the center of the “scientific revolution.” Because it was written in the seventeenth century, however, the text is a challenge. But it is manageable and even rewarding with patience. Take it slowly–the section you have to read, pages 60-79, is not very long. If you keep going, what is at first confusing may become clear (or irrelevant). Mark up passages that don’t make sense (as well as those that interest you) to discuss in class, but keep on reading. As you read, ask yourself how much this does or does not resemble what we think of as modern science.
If you click on the links in the text, you will be able to see each page as it appeared in the original book. (And if you just want the plain text of the section you have to read without distractions, you can download it here.)
- Deer, Brian. 2011. “How the Case Against the MMR Vaccine Was Fixed.” BMJ.
- Stubbe, Henry. 1670. ‘Mistakes about the Sweating-Sicknes, and its Cure,’ pp. 23-25 in Legends No Histories, or, A Specimen of Some Animadversions upon the History of the Royal Society. London.
17 Feb: Information Work
- The American Instructor. New York, 1760. Look at the table of contents and eTable of contents; then “Book-keeping”, p 153 to top of 162; and from “To Find the Hours of the Day” (p. 242) to “An easy way how to fix a dial north and south” (p. 250)
- “Keeping a Day Book” pp. 27-29 in An Address to Farmers. Newburyport, MA, 1796
- Thompson, E.P. 1967. Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. Past & Present. 38 (Dec): 56-97.
22 Feb: Reference books and the organization of knowledge
- McArthur, Tom. 1986. Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch 13, “Reference and Revolution” and 14, “Thematic Lexicography,” pp. 128-138 in the reader.
- d’Alembert, Jean Le Rond. 1751. Preliminary Discourse to the Encyclopedia of Diderot, Selections from Part I. (Entire text can be found here.)
- Book of plates from Diderot’s Encylopedie at archive.org. Slide hand icon at bottom to browse.
24 Feb: The Rise of Literacy and Standard Languages
- McArthur, Ch’s.12, “The Legislative Urge” and 15, “Alphabetic Lexicography,” pp. 121-127, 139-143 in reader.
- Johnson, Samuel. 1755. “Preface” to the Dictionary (selections; full text here).
- Johnson, Samuel. 1785 (1755). A Dictionary of the English Language. Slide hand icon at the bottom and page forward/back until you come to the definition of dictionary.)
8 Mar: Literacy and the 19th century public sphere
- Schudson, Michael. 2003. “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism,” Ch. 4 inThe Sociology of News, Norton. Pp. 64-89.
- Mindich, David. 1998. “Nonpartisanship,” pp. 40-63 in Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism. New York: NYU Press.
- Stone, Lawrence. 1969. “Literacy and Education in England 1640-1900.” Past and Present42: 69-139 (necessary to read only to p. 102)
3 Mar: Maps and visual information *GUEST LECTURE: Daniel Brownstein!*
- Wood, Dennis and John Fels. 1992. The Power of Maps pp. 4-15, 34-42, 137-140.
- Conrad, J. 1899. Heart of Darkness pp. 1-17 (ending with “Dash it all!)
8 Mar: Narrowcast: telegraph to telephone
- “Electro-Magnetic Telegraphs,” H. Rpt 753 (to Accompany Bill H.R. 713) 25th Congress, 2nd Session, April 6, 1838
- Alexander Graham Bell, “To the Capitalists of the Bell Telephone Company,” Kensington (UK), March 25, 1878
- Samuel Colt & William Robinson, “To the Public,” New York, May 20, 1846
- Henry George, “The Western Union Telegraph Company and the California Press,” San Francisco, April 21 1869.
Note: These four documents are available in bspace resources. Two are copies made from 19th century originals and consequently are not completely legible. Do your best to read them!
- Friedlander, Amy. 1995. ‘Telegraphy: The Precursor to Telephony, 1837-1873’ pp 10-21 in Amy Friedlander, Natural Monopoly and Universal Service: Telephones and Telegraphs in the U.S. Communications Infrastructure, 1837-1940. Washington, D.C. CNRI.
- Fischer, Claude S. 1992. Chapter 2 The Telephone in America. The Social History of the Telephone to 1940. University of California Press. Berkeley. pp 33-59
10 Mar: Advertising
- Bickerstaff, Isaac [i.e. Joseph Addison]. 1710. [On Advertising], The Tatler, 224 Tuesday September 12, pp 502-503
- Johnson, Samuel. 1759. [On Advertising]. The Idler, 40 Saturday Jan 20,pp. 224-229.
- McKendrick, Neil. 1982. “Josiah Wedgwood and the Commercialization of the Potteries,” pp. 100-145 in McKendrick et al. Birth of a Consumer Society. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
[For both these items, the link will take you to the first page if the volume; to find the particular article in the Tatler , either put “224” into the search box or put “502” into the image box and press “Go”; for the Idler just put “224” into the page box and press “Go.” ]
- Klein, Naomi. 2000. part 1 from No Logo
15 Mar: Information as property
- An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned. Available here
- “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned.” Available here
- U.S. Constitution Article 1. Section 8, Clause 8.
17 Mar: MIDTERM
Week 10 – No class
29 Mar: Technologies of the image
- Newhall, Beaumont. 1964. “Prints from Paper,” “Portraits for the Million,” and “The Faithful Witness,” pp. 32-57 in The History of Photography, From 1839 to the Present Day. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
- Sontag, Susan. 1977. On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus & and Giroux. Chapter 1, “In Plato’s Cave.”The photographs discussed in the chapter can be found herehttp://www.gcordon.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/chapter1.htm
- Green, David. “Veins of Resemblance: Photography and Eugenics,” Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, Photography (1984), pp. 3-16.
31 Mar: Politics and propaganda
- Schudson, Michael. 2003. “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism,” Ch. 4 inThe Sociology of News, Norton. Pp. 64-89.
- Marlin, Randall, 2002. “History of Propaganda,” pp. 62-94 in Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion, Toronto: Broadview Press.
- Recommended: Watch the first 10-minute segment of “Divide and Conquer,” one of the “Why We Fight” films that Frank Capra made for the Office of War Information in WWII. (If you want more, there are the other segments on this page.) Watch this brief video on the background of these films.
- Watch the first 7-10 minutes of Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will,” and browse the rest to get the flavor of the rallies — it’s pretty repetitive.
5 Apr: Broadcast
- Czitrom, Daniel J. 1982. “The Ethereal Hearth: American Radio from Wireless through Broadcasting, 1892-1940.” in Media and the American Mind. University of North Carolina Press. Pp. 60-88.
- Gitlin, Todd. 2001. “Supersaturation, Or, The Media Torrent And Disposable Feeling,” Ch. 1 of Media Unlimited, Metropolitan Books. Pp. 12-70.
7 Apr: Advent of the computer
- Babbage, Charles. 1835. “Registering Operations” and “On the Division of Mental Labour,” chapters 8 & 20 in On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. [Project Gutenberg edition or Google Books 1832 edition]
- Campbell-Kelly, Martin & William Aspray. 1996. “‘Babbage’s Dream Comes True,” (pp. 53-104) in Martin Campbell-Kelly & William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York: Basic Books.
- Watch: Englebart, Douglas. 1968. “Doug Englebart 1968 Demo.” On MouseSite.
12 Apr: Information and crisis (Megan Finn)
- Steven J. Jackson, Paul N. Edwards, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Cory P. Knobel. 2007. Understanding Infrastructure: History, heuristics, and cyberinfrastructure Policy. First Monday. 12(6)
Optional material for the assignment:
- Ibrahim, M. (2009). Peeling the onion: The case of the Information Technology Club project in Egypt. Dissertation.
- Warschauer, M. (2003). Dissecting the “Digital Divide”: A Case Study in Egypt. The Information Society, 19(4), 297-304.
- Wheeler, D. (2006). Empowering Publics: Information Technology and Democratization in the Arab World-Lessons from Internet Cafe’s and Beyond. SSRN eLibrary.
- Weidat, N., Benard, C., Stahl, D., Kildani, W., O’Connell, E., & Grant, A. (2008). The Kefaya Movement: A Case Study of a Grassroots Reform Initiative. RAND. Pages 8-32.
- Mitchell, T. (1991). America’s Egypt: Discourse of the Development Industry. Middle East Report, 169, 18-34.
- Elyachar, J. (2002). Empowerment Money: The World Bank, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Value of Culture in Egypt. Public Culture, 14(3), 493-514.
14 Apr: Storage and search
- Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, “Useful Void: The Art of Forgetting in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing,” KSG Faculty Research Wroking Paper Series RWP07-022
- Bush, Vannevar. 1945. As We May Think , Atlantic Monthly; 176 (1): 101-108
- NPR, Intelligence Squared Debate, 2008. Did Google Violate Its ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Motto?
- Berners-Lee, Tim. 2000. Chapters 1-3, pp. 1-34 in Weaving the Web. New York City: HarperCollins.
- Nunberg, Geoffrey. 2010. “Google Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars.” Chronicle Review, August 31.
19 Apr: The Internet: Disintermediation, Dematerialization, Disaggregation and Disruption!
- Auletta, Ken. 2010. “Publish or Perish.” The New Yorker, April 26.
- “Five Ways to Monetize the Future of News Media.” Mashable.com:
- Duguid, Paul. 1996. “Material Matters: Aspects of the Past and the Futurology of the Book,” in G. Nunberg, ed. The Future of the Book. Berkeley:University of California Press. Afterword by Umberto Eco.
- Note: ONLY the afterword is required, not the Duguid
- Bring to class a large broadside newspaper (e.g., the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal),
- Darnton, Robert. “Google and the Future of Books,” The New York Review of Books, Feb. 12, 2009. (See also letters in response)
- Warner, James. 2011. “The Future of Books,” McSweeney’s, 3.
21 Apr: Social implications of the internet I
- boyd, danah. (Forthcoming). “White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.” In Digital Race Anthology (Eds. Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White). Routledge.
- Sunstein, Cass R. 2007. “The Polarization of Extremes.” The Chronicle Review, Dec. 14.
- Nunberg, Geoffrey. 2002. “Will the Internet Always Speak English?” American Prospect, Nov. 30.
- DiMaggio, Paul, Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman,and John P. Robinson. 2001. “Social Implications of the Internet,” Annual Review of Sociology. 27:307.
26 Apr: Social implications of the internet II
- Marshall, Alfred. 1920. “Industrial Organization, Continued. The Concentration of Industries in Particular Localities,” book IV chapter X (section iv.x.1-15), in Principles of Economics. London, Macmillan & Co.
- Cairncross, Frances . 2001. Preface and “Trendspotter’s Guide to New Communications” pp ix – xvii in The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution is Changing our Lives. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
28 Apr: Virtual Pollution
FINAL EXAM: MAY 9 FROM 11:30-2:30