FEBRUARY 1, 2021
Brian Winston’s book, titled Media Technology and Society: A History of the Telegraph to the Internet, was written in 1998 and focuses on the idea that, instead of a technology or information “age,” technology evolves as a part of a larger pattern that cannot be mapped linearly. Known as the technology evolution theory, the concept explains that technology is a concept that has been defined differently according to what was available at the time. In the introduction, Winston explains that he will synthesize how human behavior, society, and technology are interconnected in a historical sense. By demonstrating how technology reinforces social trends and how societal rules influence the invention of necessary products. Winston writes to the general public, and as someone who has been introduced to the concept of the Information Age and what it can stand for, his explanation of the evolution of technology and its influence on humanity really struck a chord with me. The emphasis placed on human influences is something that I would like to look into further in this course, and so this book (at least from the introduction) is a great start.
When James Gleick began his discussing the communicative and technological aspects of cultural practices, science, and society, I was hooked. He ends the introduction of his book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, by stating that,” some information technologies were appreciated in their own time, but others were not. One that was sorely misunderstood was the African talking drum”(Gleick, 12). Gleick does not limit his definition of the Information Age, including all methods of transferring information from one person to the other. He stresses the human aspect of information, going through the names of multiple inventors, philosophers, mathematicians, etc. that changed the way information was processed through their invention. Shown above is both a meme, a snapshot from a television series, and a gif at the same time, and each form of expressing information was developed individually until they could all work in collaboration to create an image such as the one seen above. Gleick is not afraid to tackle several forms of media and stretches across history to get his point across. Overall, these two introductions gave me a solid foundation and a working definition of the Information Age and the implications of what it means.
(Gleick, James. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. New York: Vintage Publishers, 2012.)