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Revolutions in Communication: Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age, by Bill Kovarik, Bloomsbury, 2011. Author's slide shows for classroom use.

Revolutions in Communication: Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age, by Bill Kovarik, Bloomsbury, 2011. Author's slide shows for classroom use.



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  • The history of history is called Historiography
  • One of the earliest histories of printing was from 1733 MCCXXXIII is 1733This and others are available on Google Books as free downloads Palmer credits Marco Polo with bringing back the idea of moveable type and stamps to Venice in the 1200s, but 120 crowns for a Levy, 80 crowns for three volumes of Plutarch’s lives / He says this was very excessive, and the copyists mutliated and corrupted the best of authors.
  • This has some history but it is highly emotional / over wrought. Leo Marx, in his 1964 book Machine in the Garden, called this sort of thing the “Rhetoric of the technological sublime” Fournier developed the system of typography we use today, with point sizes and the idea of minimizing space between letters to the point where they were still legible. to be confused with Henry‎ - inventor of papermaking device
  • ALL of these are available on Google Books as free downloads Parton on Greeley: The family were so poor that it was a matter of doubt sometimes whether they could get food enough to live through the long winter; and so Horace, who had learned the printer's trade in Vermont, started out on foot in search of work in a village printing-office. He walked from village to village, and from town to town, until at last he went to Erie, the largest place in the vicinity.
  • Focus is always on the US, and mostly on the press and events covered by the press.
  • “Great Men and Machines” was the name of the US Smithsonian communication exhibit from about 1970 to 1989. It was taken down and replaced by a far larger and more interesting exhibit on the history of communication in general.
  • So just because Prof. Kovarik divides it up one way doesn’t mean its right. It’s just another way of looking at things. Wilbur Schramm, a great communications theorist, started with writing as the first revolution in his highly recommended The Story of Human Communication: Cave Painting to Microchip, Harper & Row, 1988Terrence Moran’s of NYU has six revolutions: Language, literacy, tyopgraphic, hypergraphic, electronic and cybernet. Introduction to the History of Communication, Peter Lang, 2010 Bill Kovarik (author of these Slides and book Revolutions in Communciation) uses pretty much the same group but (for the sake of brevity) focuses on the mass media, and so excludes writing and language.
  • Two big questions – is this a real evolution or is it Whig history? Do countries go through these stages ? -- When the commercial media gets into trouble, does it tend to become more partisan? Why? -- What is organized intelligence? Lippmann did not give much of a clue about what he thought about that. What might it be?
  • Force effect consequences
  • McLuhan’s tetrad of technology change This is one way of seeing and considering the effects of new communications technologies. Take radio, for instance. We might say radio enhanced news and music, it obsolesced (or made less prominent) print and visual media; it retrieved the spoken word and music hall shows; and it reversed (when pushed to its limits) into television (McLuhan, 1992). We might also say that television enhanced the visual, obsolesced the audio, retrieved theatrical spectacle, and reversed into “500 channels with nothing on.”
  •"Communications has helped to cement the connection of ideas and knowledge, the history of human communication is really a history, not of action, but of interaction"---Wilbur Schramm.Wilbur Schramm was an early leader in the field of communications and did a lot in the development of the field of communications. He was the one, who shaped the field of communication, as it is understood today. His book "The Story Of Human Communication" focuses on the evolution of communication right from cave painting to a computer age of mass media in the present day.The book tries to answer the questions about the history of human communication. The book can be divided into five parts. The first part contains the topics of origin of cave paintings, cosmic calendar, birth of language and the invention of writing. It explores cave paintings of Altamira in Spain, Lascaux in France and talks about prehistoric communication and the development of language and writing from non verbal-to-verbal concepts.The second part is about the institutions of communication like the city, the school and the language of mathematics and science. Schramm talks about Ionian scholars in Greece and how mankind developed from Neolithic stage to the Homo sapiens stage.The third part talks about the birth of Mass Media and institutions of communication like news, advertising, public relations, the growth of the Elite, Popular and the American press. It describes how news came into being and being and became an instrument of social control.The fourth part underlies the origin of sound, film, radio, television, photography, telephone, and entertainment (high culture and popular culture0, and comments on how these new developments changed the pace of human life.The fifth part concludes with some thoughts on the new importance of microelectronics, including computer and space communication. And what an age of communication might be like if we are indeed entering upon one."Communication is the broad field of human interchange of facts and opinions"-Redfield. Commentary-The story of human communication is a book that helps us understands what is communication? Communication is the Modus Operandi of social and commercial intercourse. It is the ability of mankind to communicate across barriers and beyond boundaries that has ushered the progress of mankind.This book is written in simpole language and explains what is meant by communication. Human beings have the power to communicate through writing, conversions, television, movies, radio and so on. At no other point in history has the ability to communicate been as open as it is now. The book explains what exactly is the process of communication, what is communication and why is it so important. In the last century there have been scholars trying to research what is communication? And there is a field to study called `communications'. One such researcher is Wilbur Schramm. Schramm is associated with nearly all-major communication research studies and theories, directly or indirectly.This book is interesting and well suited for the students of Mass Media, because communication is the major factor underlying Mass Media. Without communication, there can be no Mass Media. Thus study of communication can help us understand the basics of journalism. Man learnt to communicate even before he learnt to speak, read and write. The art of communication has however evolved over the years from sounds, grunts, actions, gestures and gesticulations to the spoken word and thereafter to the world of reading, writing and modern sophisticated methods of communication.Because communication is such an enormous topic, the book supplies, additional reference notes and indices, study aids as `Suggestions for Further Reading' for people who want to research any topic. Illustrations and quotations have been used to introduce a topic. Schramm describes the ancient schools in Sumeria and Sparta; charts of how written letters and alphabets grew into their present form, data on the distribution of newspapers, radio, and television.The most interesting chapter was "The Dawn Years" which gave accounts of ancient and pre-historic cave paintings. The chapter was very informative because it helped me understand the basic method of communication used by our ancestors. Another interesting chapter was on "The Birth of Language and Writing" which advocated how man learnt to communicate through speech and writing. The chapter on "Cosmic Calendar" was confusing, but informative.One incident was of utmost interest in the book-man on treetops to see who was approaching their area. This was the beginning of news and the newspaper. It shows how man has been curious about things right from the stone ages.Thus Schramm has succeeded in exploring and showing us how communication has developed from the Stone Age to the computer age.
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  • Optional Trim history.overview history.overview Presentation Transcript

  • Brief lectures in Media History Introduction Media history and technology (2 of 15)
  • This lecture is about …  History of Media History ◦ Social histories and critiques of media ◦ Four revolutions in mass media  And related / competing ideas ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Early media historians Walter Lippmann Elizabeth Eisenstein Harold Innis – Empire and communication Marshall McLuhan – theories of media change and influence
  • Media historians  S. Palmer ◦ General History of Printing ◦ London, MCC XXXIII
  • Media historians Supporting the temple of memory, We transmit the facts to posterity, The arts, the sciences, history, We have immortality Pierre Fourdriner Manuel Typographique, 1737
  • US Media historians  Isaiah Thomas ◦ History of printing in America, 1808  James Parton ◦ Life of Horace Greeley, 1855  James Melvin Lee ◦ History of American Journalism, 1917
  • Media history textbooks American Journalism, a History, 16901960 Frank Luther Mott 1962  The Press and America – Emery 1976  Voices of a Nation – Folkerts 1988  Mainstreams of Am. Media History – Ward 1990 (Newseum)  Media in America – Wm. Sloan 1999  3 Centuries of Am. Media – Chaisson 
  • MEDIA HISTORY Current Trends:  From national to international  From only journalism to all fields  From political to tech & culture  From Euro / male to inclusive  From “great men & machines” to cultural and social histories
  • What’s a revolution? Sudden change in status quo  Profoundly upsets social / economic / cultural order 
  • Four media revolutions  Printing ◦ Moveable type – 1455  Associated with religious revolution 1500s – 1700s ◦ Industrial scale printing  Associated with political revolutions 1700s – now  Imaging ◦ Engraving, photography and cinema ◦ Ads and PR as image making  Both associated with popularization of media  Electronic – radio, TV, satellites  Associated with nationalization of media  Digital – computers, networks  Associated with emerging global culture
  • Alternate approaches …  Language / Human ◦ Natural ability  Writing / Literate ◦ Has to be learned Typographic  Hypergraphic  Electronic  Cybernetic 
  • Four stages of media history Walter Lippmann Public Opinion, 1922 ◦ Authoritarian  (censored) ◦ Partisan  (political parties) ◦ Commercial / Penny Press  (often sensationalistic) ◦ Organized intelligence  (future development)
  • Elizabeth Eisenstein (1923–present) “Printing Press as an agent of social change” (1979) Not well accepted at first Media technology as a force was something new in history Effects of printing: dissemination, standardization, and preservation of information Recovery of previous cultures (Greek, Roman) major first task of printing Considered printing as one of the major influences in the Protestant Reformation and the formation of the modern world
  • Media technology & history To what extent is media technology at the center of human history?  Two theorists – Innis& McLuhan  ◦ Harold Innis (1894 – 1952)  Empire and Communications  Stressed balance between:  Durable, time – binding media (including oral culture)  Flexible, space – binding media  Both needed for “empire building” but lack of balance led to loss of empires
  • Media technology & history ◦ Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980)  Technical change in media (the Tetrad)  What does a new media enhance, obsolete, retrieve, and reverse?  Medium is the message  Deterministic view of media type as shaping the content of a message  Hot and cool media  “Hot” media immerses audience and allows less participation – cinema  “Cool” media requires involvement and thought  -- printed media, possibly radio
  • Useful basic concepts  Tech. Determinism v social construction ◦ Does the technology advance due to its own properties or do social, political and economic forces shape the technology?  Utopians versus Luddites ◦ Will a new technology improve things or make them worse?  Technological fallacies ◦ Predictions about future uses for technology that turn out to be off base
  • McLuhan’s technology tetrad 1. Enhance 2. Make obsolete What does the new mediumenhance or amplify? What becomes obsolete or reduced in prominence? 3. Retrieve 4. Reverse What is retrieved from an earlier time that had nearly been forgotten? How does the medium “overheat” or warp under pressure?
  • Wilbur Schramm The story of human communication (Harper Collins 1988)  Images -- Cave paintings, calendars  Writing – from symbols to phonetics  Mass media, news, ads, pr, elite & popular press  Sound, film, radio, TV, photography, p hone  Microelectronics, satellites
  • Social historians    Upton Sinclair -- The Jungle, The Brass Check, Muckraker, press critic 1900s – 1930s A. J. Liebling -- New Yorker media critic 1940s I. F. Stone, also George Seldes ◦ Independent editors and press critics 1950s – 70s  Ben Bagdikian – 1970s – 90s ◦ Media Monopoly, press concentration  Neil Postman -- 1980s - 90s ◦ Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • Critical theorists as historians  Sociologists -- Max Weber and Michael Schudson ◦ Ideational model helps observe the clash of ideas around social reform  Communications theorists -- Michel Foucault ◦ Discourse analysis to understand the information content and structure of mainstream cultural products and “subjugated knowledges.”  Critical theorists ◦ Frankfurt School -- Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and JürgenHabermas  Conflict of classes / Marxist analysis  Mass media is structured to subvert identity and assimilate individuality into the dominant culture ◦ Noam Chomsky “libertarian socialist  propaganda model – media supports ruling elites.
  • Next: the printing revolution