Media Technology and Society: A History: From the Telegraph to the Internet

By Brian Winston | Go to book overview
Save to active project

NOTES

INTRODUCTION
1
This is an account of how a particular group of technologists, in history, interacted with their societies to produce a given set of devices. This enterprise is very close to Thomas Kuhn’s project in the historical sociology of science. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)—‘undoubtedly one of the more influential and controversial scholarly books to emerge in the last few decades’ (Gutting 1980:117)—proposes a pattern of cause and consequence relating to changes in the basic concepts governing scientific inquiry. Kuhn offers a schematic explanation of these changes. Kuhn’s schema has been extensively applied to fields well away from the history of science. Indeed by the early 1990s, it received the ultimate accolade of acceptance—and misapplication—when it became a fashion in business school to talk in Kuhnian terms—for example, ‘paradigm shift’. It had become a species of ‘supertheory’. Despite this, my schematic, although about science’s sib, technology, does not follow Kuhn—except in that it offers a (different) schemata and is about (non-existent) revolutions.
2
‘Revolution’ is used here in its commonly understood sense of alteration and change, rather than in its original technical sense of recurrence or turning. This is the meaning, with its modern connotation of rapid political change, intended by those who coined the phrase ‘Information Revolution’. Raymond Williams wrote:

Revolution and revolutionary and revolutionise have of course also come to be used, outside of political contexts, to indicate fundamental changes, or fundamentally new developments, in a very wide range of activities. It can seem curious to read of ‘a revolution in shopping habits’ or of the revolution in transport’ and of course there are cases when this is simply the language of publicity to describe some ‘dynamic’ new product. But in some ways this is at least no more strange than the association of revolution with VIOLENCE, since one of the crucial tendencies of the word was simply towards important or fundamental change. Once the factory system and the new technology of the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century had been called, by analogy with the French Revolution, the INDUSTRIAL Revolution, one basis for description of new institutions and new technologies as revolutionary had been laid.

(Williams 1976:229-30; emphasis in original)

Revolution, in whatever sense it is used, implies movement, and in these developed usages, that means movement through time. The concept of the ‘Information Revolution’ is therefore in essence historical.

-343-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Media Technology and Society: A History: From the Telegraph to the Internet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 374

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?