Course Syllabus

History of Information, 2015

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

Note: Required readings not reached by "hyperlinks" from this page will be in the course reader.
 

WEEK 1

20 Jan: Introduction: Why "History of Information?"

geoff's slides

paul's slides

22 Jan: The "Age of Information"

paul's slides


WEEK 2

27 Jan: Technological Determinism

Required Reading

McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Read: "Preface to Third Printing" (pp. v-x), and "Introduction" & "The Medium is the Message" (pp. 3-21).
Source: Course reader

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.
Source: Course reader

paul's slides

29 Jan: First Technologies: Writing

  Required Readings

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

geoff's slides


WEEK 3

3 Feb: Cultural Effects of Writing

Required Readings

Gough, Kathleen. 1975. "Implications of Literacy in Traditional China and India." pp. 70-84. in Jack Goody (ed.) Literacy in Traditional Societies.. Allyn & Bacon.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Source: Google books [hyperlink] Also online here

Havelock, Eric, 1980 "The Coming of Literate Communication to Western Culture," Journal of Communication, 30(1): 90-98.
Source: Wiley [hyperlink]

Additional Materials

Scribner, Silvia and Michael Cole. 1988. "Unpackaging Literacy."  Social Science Information,  77(1).
Source: Sage [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides

Please sign up for one of the time slots [hyperlink]:

2/3: Bancroft Library tours at 1-2, 3-4

2/4: Bancroft Library tours at 2-3, 4-5

2/5: Bancroft Library tour at 12-1

 

5 Feb: Manuscript "Revolution" and the Authority of Text

Required Readings

Plato. 1973 [c. 360 bce]. Phaedrus & the Seventh & Eighth Letters. W. Hamilton, trans. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Read: "Prelude," pp. 21-26; & "The Inferiority of the Written to the Spoken Word" & "Recapitulation and Conclusion" pp. 95-103.
Source: Course reader

Trithemius, Johannes. 1974 [1492]. In Praise of Scribes. R. Behrendt (ed.). Lawrence, KA: Coronado Press.
Read Chapters I-III, V-VII, XIV.
Source: Course reader


Note: We are now going back to "primary texts," texts that discuss the changes we are interested in as they happened. As you read these texts, one almost 2500 years old, the other more than 500 years old, ask yourself whether these have anything to tell us about information in the modern world. Be prepared to discuss your reactions in class. (The Trithemius is a "parallel text" with Latin facing English. Only those fluent in Latin need read the Latin pages.)

paul's slides


WEEK 4

10 Feb: Print "Revolution"

Required Readings

Erasmus, Desiderius. 2001 [1506], The Adages of Erasmus. William Barker (ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Read: "Festina Lente" (Adage III.1) pp. 132-153.
Source: Course reader

"How Luther Went Viral", Economist, 2011, Dec 17.
Source: economist.com [hyperlink]

Additional Materials

Listen to Economist discussion at the same link.

paul's slides

12 Feb: Scientific "Revolution"

Required Reading

Sprat, Thomas. 1667. The History of the Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge. London.
Read: pp. pp 60-79
Source: bcourses [hyperlink]

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:

Start at page 60 with 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."

Note: The Royal Society was founded in England in 1660. It still exists today-2010 was its 350th anniversary and claims to be the world's oldest scientific society. This year is the 350th anniversary of its still-published journal Transactions of the Royal Society. Thomas Sprat (1635-1713), the author of the work you have to read, joined the Society in 1663 and was asked to write the Society's history. In this book, then, we have a contemporary, insider's account of the founding of a very influential society, one that people argue was at the center of the "scientific revolution." Because it was written in the seventeenth century, however, the text is a challenge. But it is manageable and even rewarding with patience. Take it slowly. The section you have to read, pages 60-79, is not very long. If you keep going, what is at first confusing may become clear (or irrelevant). Mark up passages that don't make sense (as well as those that interest you) to discuss in class, but keep on reading. As you read, ask yourself how much this does or does not resemble what we think of as modern science.

If you go to Early English Books Online, you will be able to see the pages as they appeared in the original book.

[Steele, Richard], 1712. "Essay against Quacks,"  The Spectator 572 Monday, July 26.
Source: EEBO [hyperlink]

paul's slides


WEEK 5

17 Feb: Emergence of the Public Sphere

Required Readings

[Addison, Joseph.] 1710-11. ["Uses of the Spectator"] The Spectator 10, Tuesday, March 13.
Source: Google Books [hyperlink]

[Steele, Richard.] 1711. The Spectator 49, Thursday, April 26.
Source: Google Books [hyperlink]

[Addison, Joseph.] 1710. ["The Political Upholsterer".] The Tatler, 155, Thursday, April 6.
Source: Google Books [hyperlink]

Darnton, Robert. 2000. "An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris." American Historical Review 105.1.
Source: JSTOR [hyperlink]

Cowan, Brian. 2005. "Inventing the Coffee House" and "Penny Universities," pp. 79-112 in The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. New Haven. Yale University Press.
Source: Course reader. bCourses [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides

19 Feb: The Rise of Literacy

Required Readings

McArthur, Tom. 1986. "The Legislative Urge" & "Thematic Lexicography," chapters 12 & 14 in Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Source: Course reader.

Johnson, Samuel. 1755. "Preface" A Dictionary of the English Language. London.
Source: Rutgers.edu [hyperlink]

Johnson, Samuel. 1785 (1755). "Dictionary" in A Dictionary of the English Language.
Read: Slide hand icon at the bottom and page forward/back until you come to the definition of dictionary.
Source: Internet Archive [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides


WEEK 6

24 Feb: Feb: Unnoticed Revolutions? Time, Space and Money

Required Readings

Thompson, E.P. 1967. "Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism." Past & Present 38 (Dec): 56-97.
Source: JSTOR [hyperlink][JSTOR was not working on Saturday afternoon (2/21).  If it does not allowing you to see the article, you can find a pdf on bCourses here]

Fisher, George. 1748. The American Instructor: or, Young Man's Best Companion ... Ninth Edition. Philadelphia.
Read: Title Page and
"Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written By an Old One" (pp 375-377).
Source: ECCO [hyperlink & hyperlink ]

paul's slides

 

26 Feb: Reference Books and the Organization of Knowledge

Required Readings

McArthur, Tom. 1986. "Reference and Revolution" & "Thematic Lexicography," chapters 13 & amp 14 in Worlds of Reference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Source: Course reader.

Additional Reading

Nunberg, Geoffrey. 2013. "Noted." The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 7.
Source: CHE [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides


WEEK 7

3 March: Communications "Revolution"

Required Reading

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

Source: bCourses [hyperlink]

Green, Norvin. 1883. "The Government and the Telegraph, " North American Review 137: 422-434. 
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink]

Hubbard, Gardiner G. 1883. "Government Control of the Telegraph, " North American Review 137: 521-534.
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink]

[note: the right-hand ends of lines on pp. 528-534 of this article have not been properly scanned, but you should be able to understand the article nonetheless.]

Additional Reading

“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

paul's slides

 

5 March: Advertising

Required Reading

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

Source: Course reader.

paul's slides


WEEK 8

10 March: Information as Property

Required Reading

Statute of Anne.
Source: Copyrighthistory.com [hyperlink]

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.
Source: U.S. Archives [hyperlink]

U.S Copyright Act (1790).
Source: Cambridge University [hyperlink]

An Act to Amend the Several Acts for the Encouragement of Learning [54 Geo III 156]
Read:Section IV
Source: Cambridge University [hyperlink]

An Act Concerning Trade Marks and Names.
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink]

paul's slides

12 March: Literacy and the Nineteenth Century Public Sphere

Required Reading

Henkin, David. 2006. "Becoming Postal" and "Mass Mailings" in 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").
Source: Course reader.

Williams, Heather Andrea. 2009. Ch 1 and first part of ch 2 in Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom." Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
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").
Source: ebrary [hyperlink]

Geoff's Slides


WEEK 9

17 March: Technologies of the Image

Required Reading

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.
Source: Course reader.

Fineman, Mia. 2012 "Introduction" in Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Read: pp. 3-43.
Source: Google books [hyperlink]

Additional Materials

Root, M[arcus] A[urelius] . 1864. "Uses of the Heliographic Art," pp. 26-31 in The Camera and the Pencil. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Source: Internet Archive [hyperlink]

Sontag, Susan. 1977. "In Plato's Cave," ch. 1 in On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Source: Properproof.com [hyperlink].  The photographs discussed in the chapter can be found here

Geoff's slides

19 March: Midterm Exam


WEEK 10

23-27 March: Spring Break


WEEK 11

31 March: Broadcast

Required Reading

Czitrom, Daniel J. 1982. "The Ethereal Hearth: American Radio from Wireless through Broadcasting, 1892-1940," pp. 60-88. in Media and the American Mind. University of North Carolina Press.
Source: Course reader.

2 April: Politics and Propaganda

Required Reading

Schudson, Michael. 2003. "Where News Came From: The History of Journalism," ch. 4 in The Sociology of News. New York: Norton. 
Read: pp. 64-89. 
Source: Course reader.

Marlin, Randall, 2002. "History of Propaganda" pp. 62-94 in Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion. Toronto: Broadview Press.
Read: pp. 62-94. 
Source: Course reader.

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.
Source: YouTube [hyperlink] (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 Triumph of the Will and browse the rest to get the flavor of the rallies. (It's pretty repetitive.) 
Source: Youtube [hyperlink

Geoff's slidesLink


WEEK 12

7 April: Computer "Revolution"

Required Reading

Babbage, Charles. 1822. A Letter to Sir Humphy Davy, Bart, President of The Royal Society ... On the Application of Machinery to the Purpose of Calculating and Printing Mathematical Tables. London: B & A Taylor.
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink]

Lardner, Dionysius. 1834. [Review of Babbage's Writings] Edinburgh Review, July: 263-327.
Read: "Introduction" and "The value of tables," pp. 263-285 & from ""Some solicitude will doubtless be felt respecting the present state of the calculating machinery ...," pp. 323-327, skipping, unless you choose otherwise, the account of how the engine works.
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink & hyperlink]

Lovelace, Ada. 1852. "Notes by the Translator" to L.F. Menabrea, "On Babbage's Analytic Engine."
Read: 691-706.
Source: Hathi Trust [hyperlink]

Graham-Cumming, John. 2012 "The Greatest Machine Never Built," TEDx (video). 29 April.
Watch: Entire video.
Source: TEDx [hyperlink]

Additional Reading:

Reinhold, Robert. 1982. "Study Says Technology Could Transform Society," New York Times. June 14.
Source: NYTimes.com [hyperlink]

paul's slides

 

9 April: Advent of the Internet

Required Reading

Berners-Lee, Tim. 2000. "info.cern.ch." Chapters 1-3 in Weaving the Web. New York City: HarperCollins. 
Read: pp. 266-279. 
Source: Course reader.

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. 

Source: The Internet Society [hyperlink].

Additional Reading

Abbate, Janet. 2000. Inventing the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Chapter 1, "White Heat and Cold War: The Origins and Meaning of Packet Switching." Source: Google Books

Geoff's slides


WEEK 13

14 Apr: Social Implications of the Internet (Part 1)

Auletta, Ken. 2010. "Publish or Perish." The New Yorker, April 26. 
Source: The New Yorker [hyperlink]

Carr, Nicholas, 2014. "The ebook equilibrium," Rough Type blog post, June 6. [hyperlink]

Additional Reading:

Hughes, Evan. 2013. “Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future". Wired, March 19. [hyperlink]

Darnton, Robert. 2009. "Google and the Future of Books," The New York Review of Books, Feb. 12, 2009. (See also letters in response.) 
Source: NYRB [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides

16 Apr: Social Movements, the Media and the Internet (Nikolai Smith)

Required Reading

Jones, Feminista. 2013. "Is Twitter the underground railroad of activism?" Salon. July 17.
Source: salon.com [hyperlink]

Kaba, Mariame and Smith, Andrea. 2014. "Interlopers on social media: feminism, women of color and oppression," Truth Out. February 1.
Source: truth-out.org [hyperlink]

Lenzo, Brian. 2013. "Will the revolution be tweeted?" ISR. July 17.
Read: From "Facebook revolution or Wall Street hype?" to the end. For additional reading, feel free to read the whole article as it's quite comprehensive.
Source: isreview.org [hyperlink]

Loza, Susana. 2014. "Hashtag Feminism, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and the Other #FemFuture," Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. July 21.
Source: adanewmedia.org [hyperlink]

 

McKenzie, Mia. 2014. "On Ferguson Protests, the Destruction of Things, and What Violence Really Is (And Isn’t)," Black Girl Dangerous. November 26.

Source: blackgirldangerous.org [hyperlink]
Note
: Reflect back on your responses and class discussion around “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations and how media portrayals of "riots" and "violence" are racialized.

Additional Materials

Watch "Asmaa Mahfouz & the YouTube Video that Helped Spark the Egyptian Uprising," February 8, 2011.
Source: democracynow.org [hyperlink]

Read: StudentNation (various students). 2015. "From Selma to Madison, a Generation Demands Justice," March 16.
Source: thenation.com [hyperlink]: part of a biweekly student movement dispatch with first-person organizing updates.
Note: The use of blogs as a link between diverse movement efforts throughout the US, including at Cal and UCSC.

Nikolai's slides


WEEK 14

21 Apr: Social Implications of the Internet (Part 2)

Required Reading

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. 
Source: econlib.com [hyperlink]

"The Revolution Begins at Last," Economist 1995, Sept 30. 
Source: Course reader

Paul's Slides

 

 

23 Apr: Storage and Search

Required Reading

Döpfner, Matthias. 2014."Why We Fear Google" Frankfurter Allgemeine, April 17

Schmidt. Eric. 2014.  “A Chance for Growth.” Frankfurter Allgemeine, April 4.

Zuboff, Shoshana. 2014. “Dark Google." Frankfurter Allgemeine, April 30.

Paul's slides


WEEK 15

28 April:  Social Implications of the Internet (Part 3)

Required Reading

Shirky, Clay. 2011. "ThePolitical Power of Social Media: Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change." Foreign Affairs 90: 28-41. [hyperlink]

Allan, Nicole. 2009. "The Netroots Effect." The Atlantic, September. [hyperlink]

Hindman, Matthew. 2008, "What is the Online Public Sphere Good For?" in Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui, eds. The Hyperlinked Society. University of Michigan Press. [hyperlink]

Additional Reading.

Sifry, Micah. 2009. "Critiquing Matthew Hindman's 'The Myth of Digital Democracy'" Techpresident.com, Nov. 3. [hyperlink

Poster, Mark. 1995. "The Net as a Public Sphere" Wired 3.11. [hyperlink]

Geoff's slides

30 April: Digital Pollution & Wrap

Geoff's slides


WEEK 16

RRR Week


WEEK 17

13 May: Final Exam 11:30-2:30

Course Summary:

Date Details