Response to Downey

Gregory Downey’s Technology and Communication in American History provides a guided tour of communication technology throughout American History. From the first colonial printing presses to the post 9/11 internet, Downey provides a brief insight into the various mainstream modes of communication technology that have developed over the last two hundred-odd years ad reflects on various aspects regarding their origins and their impacts.

Two prominent questions proposed by Downey are: what should the purpose of these technologies (especially computers) be? Also, how should these networks, which are at least partially dependent on physical space, be controlled? On page 30, Downey presents two facets of an argument in reference to the Telegraph and Telephone, two technologies which required large, elaborate networks of wires to be established in order to function. While the U.S. had several chances to control these networks under the postal service, but never took the opportunity. According to Downey, some argue that the independence of the networks allowed them to stay several years ahead of the infrastructure established elsewhere, like in the United Kingdom. However Downey immediately counteracts this argument, stating that the independence often led to monopolies rather than a healthy business climate, and often these networks were provided hefty subsidies by the United States government. Downey also raises a similar point of discussion earlier in the book while discussing print media, specifically regarding copyright and intellectual property (p.23). While the discussion is quite brief, it is a subject I find worthy of deeper discussion. Specifically, how the relationship with the public domain and views on intellectual property affect creativity today. Only recently did a body of works again begin to enter the public domain in the United States due to copyright extensions. These “Mickey Mouse Laws”, called such because of the role played by Disney in their creation, have warped copyright law in the United States, and were often created to keep valuable intellectual properties, such as Mickey Mouse, from entering public domain. The large and often hypocritical role that Disney has played in this arena is worth further discussion in class, especially because of the implications on the Information Age that other copyright laws, such as the controversial Article 13 from the European Union, can have on the future.

Near the book’s conclusion, Downey also reflects how the 9/11 bombing demonstrated the best and worst aspects of the telecoms. In the immediacy of the bombings, newspapers were firing on all cylinders to provide news, platforms like Google were redirecting users to TV news in order to find the most current coverage. After the fact, coverage of international news remained low apart from news dealing with Iraq, and coverage of celebrity and lifestyle news had risen back to pre-9/11 levels of coverage (p.60). For as disastrous and far-reaching an event as the 9/11 bombing was, it did little to change the media culture of the United States, despite having massive implications on nearly every facet of life.

Downey, Gregory. Technology and Communication in American History. American Historical Association. 2011.

Blog 1

I find it funny that I opted to take this class, considering another course I am taking this semester, INDT 501, is also a very tech-reliant course, so I expect to be getting a substantially more tech-focused education than I have in semesters past. The internet has been an important part of my life for many years. From Webkinz to early Youtube, later to Facebook and Reddit, I have found that a lot of what I pay attention to comes from the internet.

What interested me about this course was the modernity of it. Most history classes seem to cut off around the 1980s, or more recently, the post-9/11 era which feels like it is in a limbo between history and current event. The best comparison I can make is to the falling of the Berlin Wall for my generation- it is a world-shaping event for those who lived through it, but to the kids in schools now it is something that took place before they were born. I also find the study of information age culture extremely interesting. I jokingly consider myself a connoisseur of memes, but in all seriousness I see current meme culture as an art form, specifically a new form of surrealism. It is something that is always evolving and adapting as new formats are popularized and older ones continue to see permutations and adaptations.

Considering the advice given by the 2014 class, one thing I will certainly take to heart is the need to keep an eye on the syllabus for changes. Fortunately I have a solution that works for me for keeping myself on track. Since I made the mistake/decision to begin playing the Yugioh card game again, I have been using an app to monitor websites for changes in order to monitor the game’s list of forbidden cards whenever a new change is due to come out. I could use a similar program to watch the syllabus and send notification to my phone. As they say…


A War Renewed Chapter 1

The introductory chapter of my novel, A War Renewed. This excerpt takes place at the negotiation table, as the nations of the land of Thandros convene to determine the terms of defeat for the defeated Empire of Gilderlund.

Teric, a general who hesitantly fought against his home country has been chosen to represent the defeated empire. Cyk’ra, a close friend and ally during the war, represents a small peacekeeping organization recently brought back into prominence by her actions.

A War Renewed Ch 1