Downey reading and the politics of technology

I thought a rather interesting portion of the reading of “Technology and Communication in American History” by Gregory Downey had much to offer. Whilst there was much about the impacts of technology and its history in the United States, the impact politics had very much interested me. For instance, one passage early on in the reading on page 9 went over how technology was tied to a few of the following Urbanization/Industrialization, the Democratic state, Capitalist market, and national integration. As someone who is usually very interested in political systems, the noting of the role technology and communication played in such systems made their role much more interesting to me as I read. I am very excited to see such topics approached in the hopes of explaining the role and history of technology/ communication and its progress.

Downey, Gregory John. Technology and Communication in American History. American Historical Association, 2011. COPY THE CITATION TO CLIPBOARD

Timeline and Assignment Ideas 1/19/23

There were many good ideas presented by various members of class, there were two I will mention specifically as they were the two I had the most interest in. One is using recording studios to do podcast or video creation. The aforementioned idea is something I would love to become better at, as I have little in the way of formal skills in creating such media as of now. The other idea I liked a great deal was that Eliza had which was “It would be cool if we turned the advertisements into an assignment in which we had to come up with an ad for a form of technology”. I like this idea as it would not only be informative about the technology, but also hone our skills in digital design or some other media form of advertisements.

An idea I came up with would be to have everyone break into groups that each focuses on a different form of technology and form of media. An example would be one group focusing on utilizing podcasts to lead class discussion in whilst another might use propaganda. This would give each group the chance to lead discussion through a form of media and or technology they had been working on for some time.

My timeline

History of Information and Communication Blog Introduction

After reading the 4 monographs, I feel I have learned some interesting takeaways from the topic of the history of communication and information. Among these are ideas relating to the evolution vs. revolution of the advancement of technology in the relatively recent history. This reading was titled “Media Technology and Society” by Brian Winston. The concepts and ideas surrounding certain advancements in the technology of information/ communication often predated the actual inventions by many years in some cases (i.e. telegraph). Thus, the so called “rapid” advancement we often associate with such technological progress is often misunderstood. The differentiation between prototypes and actually put out inventions is also discussed by Winston, who made interesting but arguably rather complex models showing the various relationships between things such as “future”, “prototypes”, and “competence” to name only a few. The role of “inventions” in society and how they need to be introduced is an idea that is also given exploration in the monograph introduction. Coming and going of various once “revolutionary” inventions such as laser disks is also something Winston brought up. Overall, the role of the invention, prototypes, and how they made an impact on varying levels was covered in a broad sense.

The other reading I will make a note of is “The Cybernetics Moment” by Ronald R. Kline, which covered the rise of cybernetics in the context of history, the Cold War, as well as a dive into what exactly the “Information Age” really is and what is its origin. The merging of the social sciences with cybernetics, as it was thought by some that it could explain the behavior of humans and society by the use of feedback loops. Kline also wrote about how the cybernetics moment played a role in not only the history of information/ Information Age, but also the Cold War. The role of cybernetics in social and scientific history seemed to have been focal points of the monograph.

Justin H.


Hi, my name is Justin Henle and I am history major and senior. I took this class due to me needing a digital intensive, but I also thought it would be fun and interesting to merge my interest in history with what I need to learn through a digital intensive course. I also thought the course itself seemed interesting, as I know little about the information age relative to other parts of modern history. Overall, I am interested in what we will learn over the course of the Spring. A piece of advice I would give to others is to at least make an effort to spend 60% of the time listening and 40% listening, so that new ideas and perspectives can be heard. Also an assignment I would like to see would be to utilize website building to showcase historical narratives.