Topic Selection Options

There are a couple of different ways you can pick a topic.

OPTION 1: We have a list of topics that we think are interesting below.  You can pick from that list and write a research question about that topic.

  • the usage of information technology in teenage relationship building before telephones
  • the first British census
  • the genesis of telegraph codes
  • WWII cryptography and it’s relationship to discipline “computer science”
  • Korean typography in the 12th c.
  • the performance of ethnicity in MOOs and MUDs in the 1990s
  • cybernetics as a cold war ideology
  • early Spanish or Chinese Language papers in California
  • almanacs as a source of information in early california
  • the purpose of early cable tv in the urban USA
  • the impact of information technology on seismology and structural engineering in California in the 1970s
  • the role of women in early computer programming in America
  • the development of the Dewey decimal system
  • the implication of Library of Congress classification system’s ethnic categories in early 20th c. America
  • Plato’s ideas about orality and writing
  • the durability of predictions of the future in books such as Bill Gates’ “The Road Ahead” or Steward Brand’s “The Clock of the Long Now”
  • the impacts of letters on the experience of Japanese Internment Camps in California in the 1940s
  • the “information technology” used during the Lincoln Douglas debates
  • maps of Mexican California by Californios
  • Suzanne Briet
  • the development of the Xerox Star
  • the Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s
  • the legacy of Japanese woodblock prints in relation to modern Japanese manga
  • forms of propaganda in ancient civilizations
  • the social function of Books of Hours in Medieval Europe
  • the origins of intellectual property as applied to artwork and images
  • forms of censorship in American libraries at the beginning of the 20th Century
  • Cabinets of Curiosities in Renaissance or post-Renaissance Europe
  • the politics of negotiating technical standards in the development of SGML and HTML in the 1980s
  • the uses of the radio by indigenous Australians
  • the administration of early Bulletin Board Systems in the 1980s (BBSs)
  • the development of the Korean alphabet during the reign of King Sejong in the 1400s
  • the use of information technology in the administration and organization of the Mali empire in the 13th Century
  • scientific correspondence during the 1600s
  • the origins of the radio talk (or call-in) show
  • women comic book authors and cartoonists in the early 20th century

OPTION 2: Follow these directions to help you brainstorm some ideas.

step A: Pick something that you feel is critical to understanding the history of information.  Examples of topics that you might pick: political blogs, books, comics, the dewey decimal system, public radio, the Emergency Alert System, the postal system, the FCC, accounting, Greenwich mean time, infoganda, scientific journals, photographic journalism, USENET, cuniform tablets, cabinets of curiosities, xylography, functional literacy, almanacs.

step B: Next, pick a specific community, or region.  For example, you might pick: the military, migrant workers in California, the Royal Society, readers of the WASP (a 19th century California paper), China.

step C: Last pick a specific time period.  Examples: the civil war, the long 19th century, reformation, 1945.

Research questions might be as follows:
1. What are the institutions and technologies that shaped A for B during C?
2. How did A shape B during C?
3. How does this understanding of A help us to understand the history of information?

OPTION 3: Something totally different!!!!

Comments are Closed on this Post.