One last class… August 13, 2009

Wow! All of a sudden–at least this how it feels to us–the class is about over. In fact, tomorrow is our last class! Megan will be tying together a bunch of themes from the class together in a short presentation about her research on the history of information infrastructure in times of crisis. And then you are all free!

Remember, your final essays are due at 1:15pm in class. Remember, we’d like two paper copies and one copy emailed to us. Name the document something like this: FIRSTNAME-LASTNAME-FINAL.doc . Feel free to email with us with any last minute questions.

Final essay topics were posted last week… August 9, 2009

Just a reminder that you can find complete instructions for the final essay here. Read the details very carefully and let us know if you have any questions. Feel free to email us for appointments early this week.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to reading some interesting arguments!

August 5: research project reports due! August 4, 2009

A lengthy bSpace announcement went out this morning reminding you that the research write ups are due tomorrow. We are so excited to see your final reports!  Please don’t forget that we are going to be posting your write up and bibliography on this site.  Also, if you want us to post your slides, please email them to us in pdf.

We will have the research presentations before lecture on Weds.  Email your slides by 12:45 if you are presenting, and be on time!

Research group presentations start today! July 31, 2009

Reminder that besides being joined by Professor Michael Buckland today, we have our first round of research group presentations. Come and learn what your fellow classmates will contribute to our history of information. Today’s line up features a set of presentations looking at issues of information use around WWII. We’ll be hearing about FDR and his use of the media, cinema and propaganda, the French Resistance, and cryptography.

And on food and TV…

And on a completely unrelated note, those of you who enjoyed our lecture on Wednesday and the discussion of TV in the home, might find this forthcoming article in New York Times Magazine by Michael Pollan interesting. See “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch.”

Guidelines for research project write-up have been updated July 29, 2009

We have just sent out the guidelines for the research project write-up via a bspace announcement. Please check the announcements tab on bspace for your email address that is on record at Cal in order to see it. Or, ask a friend!

Some presentation guidelines – see bspace announcement July 26, 2009

We have just posted a rather lengthy announcement on bspace with more guidelines and details about the research project presentations. Please check you Cal email addresses, log in to bspace directly, or do whatever you have to do to make sure you’re on the same page as your group as you prepare.

First round of presentations starts this Friday. Reminder, here is the presentation schedule. Good luck! We’re excited to see what you all have come up with.

Friday – Guest lecture, short homework, no quiz July 22, 2009

Reminder about an important announcement made today:

There is no in class quiz on Friday for Paul Duguid’s guest lecture on advertising. Instead, we have assigned a short homework assignment. This is due at the beginning of class on paper. No email submissions allowed.


HOMEWORK (paper copy due at the beginning of class): Does adverting belong in a history of information course?  Use evidence from the article on Josiah Wedgwood and the chapter by Naomi Klein to respond to this question in 200-words.”

Class project presentations July 20, 2009

As some people, but not everyone, realized, we have posted the schedule for group presentations. We’ve organized them by theme and put in temporary titles. Remember, the presentations are your chance to give us your synthesis and analysis of what you have come up with, without having to have it all written out. Groups that are going early: focus on creating an argument and getting the presentation in order. The other project hand-ins aren’t due until Wednesday, Aug 5 and you can use the time in between your presentation and that day to refine your argument in writing.

Follow up from today + reminder about project assignment due Wednesday July 13, 2009

We hope that everyone had a good time today at the recently restored Bancroft Library. We thought that we were only giving you a tangible exposure to a couple of almost-two-hundred-year-old printing presses. We were delighted that Anthony Bliss was willing to spend so much time giving us a brief show and tell (and touch) of old manuscripts and printed books. It was quite a unique experience to be able to touch 500 year-old vellum (both the yellow side and the white side), compare two versions of Euclid’s Elementa Geometriae, see the first pocket book and first use of italics by Aldus Manutius, and to conclude with 21 shillings worth of Dicken’s David Copperfield (plus all of those ads, of course). If you enjoyed it and want to send along a thank you note to Anthony, I’m sure he’d appreciate it (email address here).

Getting the timing right on the group rotation through the library and through Megan’s lecture on coffeehouse society and the public proved to be trickier than we thought, so we apologize if the lecture felt either too rushed or not enough material (depending on which group you were in!).

Project proposals due Wednesday

Remember that we are asking for 2 copies of a 200 word proposal from each group. So, each group has to write one proposal, print off two copies and bring them to class. The details on what needs to go into the proposal are on the research project page.

The next class

As briefly discussed at the end of class, we move into some complex terrain on Wednesday as we discuss the rise of modern notions of intellectual property. We will be telling a UK and US-centric story and will be excited to hear if anyone has more to say about other places around the world. What this also means is that if people are unfamiliar with some of the foundational concepts in US or UK civics that those of us educated here just take for granted, it may help to find the basics online.

As always, feel free to email us with any questions or concerns. Remember to replace “dot” with a “.” and “at” with “@”.

Off to a great start and looking ahead July 10, 2009

We’re off to a quick start, having heard back-to-back lectures on claims of inventions and technologies that have changed the face culture. On Wednesday, we talked about writing and the alphabet and examined whether or not history can be thought of as pre-alphabetic and post-alphabetic as some claimed. Today, we talked about Gutenberg and printing in Europe, China, and Korea and examined whether or not history should be thought of as pre-Gutenberg and post-Gutenberg as others claimed. And we’ve seen similarities and differences into the kinds of arguments being made and even some of the alleged consequences of these information technologies.

Next week we’ll be covering several topics that overlap in European history. On Monday, we’ll be discussing British coffee houses and the emergence of the a notion of “the public.” Yesterday, we added a link to the “navigation” section to the next class as a shortcut into the syllabus.

It was great to have a chance to talk to most of the groups today. The class tossed around a ton of interesting ideas that are all worthy of detailed research. So start to play with some ideas. See what sticks. Then narrow everything down and be ready on Wednesday to turn in your group’s proposal.

See you next week…