Course Syllabus

History of Information

INFO 103 | COG SCI C103 | HIST C192 | MSC 104C


1/21/2014: Introduction  [slides-GN]  [slides-PD]                                                     

1/23/2014: Age of Information [slides]         

1/28/2014: Technological Determinism [slides]

"McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media. New York: McGraw-Hill.  

Read: “Preface to Third Printing” pp. v-x; & “Introduction,” & “The Medium is the Message” pp. 3-21. [pages 5-20 in reader]

Source: Course reader, also on bcourses

Williams, Raymond. 1974. Television and Cultural Form. New York: Schocken Books.

Read: Chapter 1, introduction and sections a & b, pp. 9-19; & Chapter 5, section c, pp. 126-128." [pages 21-42 in reader]

Source: Course reader, also on bcourses                                      

1/30/2014: First Information Technologies – Writing [slides]

Marshack, Alexander. 1999. “The Art and Symbols of Ice-Age Man,” in Crowley, David (ed.) Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. pp. 5-14.

Read: Entire article [pages 45-54 in reader]

Source: Course reader

Gnanadesikan, Amalia E. 2009. The Writing Revolution : Cuneiform to the Internet. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

Read: Chs 1, 2, 4, 12.

Source: ebrary [hyperlink, library proxy]

 2/3 to 2/5: Bancroft library tours [signup via Google Docs]

 2/4/2014: Cultural Effects of Writing [slides] 

Gough, Kathleen. 1968. “Implications of literacy in traditional China and India.” In Goody, Jack (ed.). Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Read: pp. 44-56.

Source: Google books [hyperlink]

Havelock, Eric, 1980 “The Coming of Literate Communication to Western Culture,”  Journal of Communication, 30(1) . Pp. 90-98.

Read: entire article

Source: Wiley [hyperlink, library proxy]

Additional Reading: Scribner, Silvia and Michael Cole. 1988. “Unpackaging Literacy.”  Social Science Information, 17, 1.

      Source: Sage [hyperlink, library proxy]

2/6/2014: Manuscript 'Revolution' & the authority of the text [slides]

Plato. 1973 [c. 360 bce]. Phaedrus & the Seventh & Eighth Letters. Hamilton, W. (trans.) Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Read “Prelude,” pp. 21-26; & “The Inferiority of the Written to the Spoken Word” & “Recapitulation and Conclusion” pp. 95-103. [pages 56-64 in reader]

Source: Course reader

Trithemius, Johannes. 1974 [1492]. In Praise of Scribes. Behrendt, R. (ed.) Lawrence, KA: Coronado Press.

Read: Chapters I-III, V-VII, XIV.” [pages 65-84 in reader]
Source: Course reader                                   

2/11/2014: The Print 'Revolution' [slides]

Knox, Vicesimus. 1817, Essays, Moral and Literary (seventeenth edition). London.: Charles Dilly.

Read: “Introductory Remarks on the Art of Printing” pp. 76-81; ”On the Circumstances which Led to the Discovery of the Art of Printing, with Miscellaneous Remarks on It” pp. 81-87;  & “On the Moral, Political, and Religious Effects of Printing, with Concluding remarks” pp 87-96. [pages 85-96 in reader]

Source: Course reader

"How Luther Went Viral." 2011. The Economist. December 17.

Read: Entire article

Source: [hyperlink]


2/13/2014: The Scientific ‘Revolution’ [slides]

Sprat, Thomas. 1734 [first published 1667]. The History of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge. London: Knapton. pp 60-79.

Sprat divides his history into three parts. The first gives the background of the group which formed the Royal Society. The second describes what they did that earned them the title “Royal Society” (in 1662). And the third describes what they did between 1662 and the publication of Sprat’s book in 1667. You are asked to read from the second part:

Read: Start at page 60–page numbers are given in bold within square brackets, so scroll down until you see [60] then look for the paragraph that begins, “I come now to the Second Period of my Narration…” and read to p. 79, “The Royal Society will become Immortal.”

Source: [hyperlink], PDF on Canvas

Steele, Richard, 1712. “Essay against Quacks,” The Spectator 8 (572).

Reader: Entire article

Source: ECCO [hyperlink], PDF on Canvas

 Additional reading:

Aviv, Rachel.  2014.  "A Valuable ReputationThe New Yorker, February 10.

For a recent appraisal of the Society see:

Powell, Michael. 2012. “A Redoubt of Learning Holds Firm” New York Times, September 3.  

2/18/2014: The Public Sphere [Slides]

Addison, Joseph. 1711. “Uses of the Spectator." The Spectator, No. 10. March 13.

Read: Entire article

Source: ourcivilisation [hyperlink]

Steele, Richard. The Spectator, No. 49, Thursday, April 26, 1711.

Read: Entire article

Source: Google books [hyperlink]

Addison, Joseph.1711.  "The Political Upholsterer.” The Tatler, No. 155. April 6

Read: Entire article

Source: Google books [hyperlink]

Darnton, Robert. 2000. “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris.” American Historical Review 105.1.

Read: Entire article

Source: JSTOR [hyperlink, library proxy]

2/20/2014: Language & the Dictionary [slides]           

McArthur, Tom. 1986.  Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Read: Ch. 12, “The Legislative Urge” [pages 99-103 in reader]

Source: Course reader

Johnson, Samuel. 1785 (1755). A Dictionary of the English Language. London.

Read: entire preface

Source: Rutgers [hyperlink]

Read: Slide hand icon at the bottom and page forward/back until you come to the definition of dictionary.

Source: [hyperlink]


2/25/2014: Unnoticed Revolutions?: Time, Space & Money [slides]

Thompson, E.P. 1967. “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Past & Present 38 (Dec): 56-97.

Read: Entire article

Source: JSTOR, [hyperlink]

Fisher, George, acceptant. 1748. The American Instructor: or, Young Man’s Best Companion. Philadelphia: B. Franklin and D. Hall. 

Read:  the Title Page and “Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written By an Old One” (pp 375-377).

Source: ECCO [hyperlink, PDF in Canvas]

2/27/2014: Reference [slides]

McArthur, Tom. 1986.  Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Read: Ch. 13, “Reference and Revolution” and Ch. 14, “Thematic Lexicography,”  [ 104-114 in course reader]

Source: Course reader. 

Book of plates from Diderot’s Encylopedie.

Read: all plates

Source: [hyperlink]

For fun: Nunberg, Geoffrey. 2013. “Noted.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 7

Read: Entire article

Source: CHE [hyperlink]


3/4/2014: Communications 'Revolution' [slides]

“Electro-Magnetic Telegraphs,” H. Rpt 753 (to Accompany Bill H.R. 713) 25th Congress, 2nd Session, April 6, 1838

Alexander Graham Bell, “To the Capitalists of the Bell Telephone Company,” Kensington (UK), March 25, 1878

Samuel Colt & William Robinson, “To the Public,” New York, May 20, 1846

Henry George, “The Western Union Telegraph Company and the California Press,” San Francisco, April 21 1869.

Read: All articles

Source: PDFs on Canvas         

3/6/2014: Advertising [slides]

Johnson, Samuel. 1761. "On Advertising." The Idler 40 (Jan 20): 224-229.

Read: pp.224-229

Source: ECCO [hyperlink]


McKendrick, Neil. 1982. “Josiah Wedgwood and the Commercialization of the Potteries,” pp. 100-145 in McKendrick et al. (Eds.) Birth of a Consumer Society. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Read: pp. 100-145 [pages 121-143 in course reader]

Source: Course reader                

3/11/2014: Literacy and the Nineteenth Century Public Sphere [slides]

Henkin, David. 2006.  The Postal Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Read: “Becoming Postal.” section of Ch. 1, Pp.15-34 (to "New England Poets"); section of Ch.6  “Mass Mailings” Pp. 148-158 (to "…part of the same network'). [146-171 in course reader]

Source: Course reader

Williams, ‪Heather Andrea. 2009.  Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom. Univ of North Carolina Press. Pp 1-41.

Read: Ch.1 and 1st part of Ch.2 ("In Secret Places: Acquiring Literacy in Slave Communities“ and A Coveted Possession: Literacy in the First Days of Freedom”) inSource: UC ebook [hyperlink]

3/13/2014: Intellectual Property [slides]

Statute of Anne

US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

Copyright Act (1790)

“The Trademark Cases” 100 US 82 (1879).

Read: All laws           

Source: hyperlinks


An Act Concerning Trade Marks and Names [CA 1863 155]

from An Act to Revise, Consolidate, and Amend the Statutes Relating to Patents and Copyrights (1870), sections 77-84. [16 Stat 198 1848-1871]

       Read: All laws

       Source: PDFs in Canvas 

Of Trade and Stock Marks and Brands [Laws of Oregon, Chap 30, Oct 21, 1864, pp. 780-782.] 

Read: Chapter XXX, pages 780-782 Source: Google Books [hyperlink]                       

3/18/2014: Technologies of the Image [slides]             

Newhall, Beaumont. 1964. The History of Photography, From 1839 to the Present Day. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Read: “Prints from Paper,” “Portraits for the Million,” and “The Faithful Witness,” pp. 32-57.  [172-216 in course reader]

Source: Course reader

Fineman, Mia. 2012. "Faking it. Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop." New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Read: “Introduction” pp. 3-43 [x – x in course reader]

Source: Google books [hyperlink]

3/20/2014: Midterm exam            

3/25/2014: Spring break


3/27/2014: Spring break                             

4/1/2014: Broadcast  [slides]  

Czitrom, Daniel J. 1982. “The Ethereal Hearth: American Radio from Wireless through Broadcasting, 1892-1940.” in Media and the American Mind. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Pp. 60-88.

Read: Entire chapter [219-233 in course reader]

Source: Course reader


4/3/2014: Computer 'Revolution'  [slides]

Babbage, Charles. 1832. “Registering Operations” and “On the Division of Mental Labour,” chapters 8 & 19 in On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

Read: chch 8, 19  Source: [hyperlink & hyperlink]

Graham-Cumming, John. 2012 “The Greatest Machine Never Built,”   TEDx (video). 29 April.

Watch: Entire video   Source: TEDx [hyperlink]

Campbell-Kelly, Martin & William Aspray. 1996. “‘Babbage’s Dream Comes True,” (pp. 53-104) in Martin Campbell-Kelly & William Aspray (eds.), Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York: Basic Books.

Read: Entire chapter, pp 53-78 [ 235-247 in course reader]

Source: Course reader

For fun: Reinhold, Robert. 1982. “Study Says Technology Could Transform Society,” New York Times. June 14.

Source: [hyperlink]                                  

4/8/2014: Propaganda [slides]

"Schudson, Michael. 2003. “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism,” Ch. 4 in The Sociology of News. Norton. Pp. 64-89.

Read: Entire chapter, [pp. 266-279 in course reader]

Source: Course reader

Marlin, Randall, 2002. “History of Propaganda,” pp. 62-94 in Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion. Toronto: Broadview Press.

Read: Entire chapter, [pp. 281-297 in course reader]

Source: Course reader

Bernays, Edward L, 1928. Propaganda.

Read: Ch. 1-4 (pp. 9-61)  Source: PDF on Canvas [hyperlink]

Additional Materials:   Watch the first 10-minute segment of “Divide and Conquer,” one of the “Why We Fight” films that Frank Capra made for the Office of War Information in WWII. (If you want more, there are the other segments on this page.) Watch this brief video on the background of these films.

Source: Youtube [hyperlink

Watch the first 7-10 minutes of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1934 “Triumph of the Will,” and browse the rest to get the flavor of the rallies — it’s pretty repetitive.

Source: Youtube [hyperlink]


4/10/2014: Governing the Commons: Wikipedia (TA Lecture) [slides]

Required reading:

Butler, B., Joyce, E., and Pike, J. “Don’t Look Now, But We’ve Created a Bureaucracy: The Nature and Roles of Policies and Rules in Wikipedia.” In Proceedings of the 2008 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2008).

Geiger, R.S. and Ribes, D. “The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal” In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010). 

Optional reading:

Halfaker, A., Geiger, R.S., and Treveen, L. “Snuggle: Designing for efficient socialization and ideological critique.” In Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2014).

 Source: hyperlinks above   

4/15/2014: Storage & Search [slides]

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, “Useful Void: The Art of Forgetting in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing,” KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP07-022.

Read: Entire article--not just the abstract.  (This will require you to click on the "pdf" link.)

Source: [hyperlink]

Bush, Vannevar. 1945. As We May Think, The Atlantic Monthly. 176 (1): 101-108.

Read: Entire article

Source: The Atlantic [hyperlink]                                            

Additional reading:

Duguid, Paul.  2006.  ""Limits of Self-Organiztion: Peer-Production and the 'Laws of Quality'"  First Monday 11(10)

4/17/2014: Advent of the Internet [Slides]

Berners-Lee, Tim. 2000. “” Chapters 1-3 in Weaving the Web. New York City: HarperCollins.

Read: Chapters 1-3, [299-317 in course reader]

Source: Course reader                                            

Additional reading:

  • Leiner, Barry M., Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff, “A Brief History of the Internet,”  The Internet Society. [hyperlink]        

4/22/2014: Social Implications of the Internet -  I  [slides]

Marshall, Alfred. 1920. “Industrial Organization, Continued. The Concentration of Industries in Particular Localities,” book IV chapter X (section iv.x.1-15), in Principles of Economics. London, Macmillan & Co.

Read: IV.X.1-15

Source: [hyperlink], PDFs on Canvas

Knox, On the Original Intention of Universities vol 2, pp. 149-154 in Liberal Education (1789)

Read: pp 149-154

Source: Google books [hyperlink], PDF on Canvas

“The Revolution Begins at Last,” Economist, 1995, Sept 30.

Read: Entire article [318-320 in course reader]

Source: Course reader


4/24/2014: Social Implications of the Internet -  II [Slides]   


boyd, danah and  Alice E. Marwick.  “The Drama! Teen Conflict, Gossip, and Bullying in Networked Publics.” Paper presented at  conference, A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society, Oxford Internet Institute, Sept. 22, 2011. [hyperlink

 Kerr, Ian, Carole Lucock,  Valerie Steeves, eds. 2009. “The Strange Case of Gyges’ Ring,” introduction to Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society. Oxford UP. Pp. pp. xxiv-xxxi. UCB ebook (link

Valentino-Devries, Jennifer and Jeremy Singer-Vine. "They Know What You're Shopping For." The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 7, 2012 [hyperlink]

Jurgenson, Nathan. " Why Privacy Is Actually Thriving Online," Wired, March 31, 2014. [hyperlink]    

Additional reading: 

boyd, danah. 2011. “White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.” In Digital Race Anthology (Eds. Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White). Routledge. [hyperlink]

4/29/2014: Social Implications III  [slides]


  • Auletta, Ken. 2010. “Publish or Perish.” The New Yorker, April 26.
  • Additional:
    • Darnton, Robert. “Google and the Future of Books,” The New York Review of Books, Feb. 12, 2009. (See also letters in response)                                     

5/1/2014: Wrap

Reading: boyd, danah and Alice Marwick. 2011. "Social Privacy in Networked Publics," Privacy Law Scholars conference, Berkeley. [link]                                       

5/6/2014: Reading Week               

5/8/2014: Reading Week                                             

5/14/2014:  Final exam: 11:30-2:30   


Course Summary:

Date Details Due