History 427: History of the Information Age

HIST 427: 1900-1945 Group Timeline and Early Print Culture Thoughts

Table 2: Timeline

The following timeline is part of my first HIST 427: History of the Information Age assignment. Our group of four was assigned the rough time period of 1900-1945 to select key photographs that depict the Information Age. You can learn more about each group member’s photograph at the timeline below.

In-Class Readings and Discussion Reflection:

During Tuesday’s Class Meeting, we discussed the beginnings of the Information Age in the United States, as well as the history of the book and the digital world. We also prepared to discuss Roger Mellen’s “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America.” for Thursday’s meeting. 

Print Versus Digital Word

During our discussion, we shared our preferences regarding print versus digital text, as well as the concept of digital convergence. While digital e-readers, such as the Kindle or iPad continue to evolve and update each year, the way by which print books are made remains the same. However, while the digital and print word both are mediums by which you can read, we settled that each medium serves a different purpose.

Personally, I prefer digital word when I need quick, convenient access to a text. Digital word tends to serve a more transient, disposable purpose for me, as I typically read homework assignments, scholarly articles, or current events on my phone or the computer. However, I do not enjoy reading lengthy texts on a screen. I prefer to annotate works longer than twenty to thirty pages on paper.

When I choose to purchase a print book, it is either because I have an emotional connection or substantial vested interest in the text, such as a novel that I plan to reread, or because it is a text that I will consistently use and return to for the duration of a semester, such as an important textbook.

As the digital word continues to evolve, I do not believe that it will ever overtake the print word. Each medium serves a different purpose and allows users to consume information at a pace that fits their needs.

The Early Information Age in America

The second aspect of our class discussion focussed on the early Information Age in the United States. Notably, the American colonies were home to a highly literate population, in part due to the Protestant emphasis on one’s individual understanding of the Bible. While the majority of early colonists did not have the leisure time required to read texts other than the Bible, these early literacy-promoting institutions and values provided the framework for America’s Information Age, as seen in the eighteenth-century rise of the pamphlet. Ending class, we contemplated what early institutions, such as the post office, were necessary in the United States to create the strong information networks of the late nineteenth-century, and into the modern era.

Sources Cited

(Citations for all blog posts are also available here.)

Chandler, Alfred D., and James W. Cortada. Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/umw/detail.action?docID=270883

Brown, Richard. History of the Book and the Digital World

Mellen, Roger. “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America.” Media History 21, no. 1 (January 2, 2015): 23–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/13688804.2014.983058

unknown. n.d. (circa 1942-1944). Women at the Public Relations Section, European Theater of Operations station. One is on the telephone, one holds a camera, several are looking at papers. Photographs and a map are on the wall behind them. A machine gun is propped in the corner.. photographs, gelatin silver prints. https://library.artstor.org/asset/SCHLES_130764650.

2 thoughts on “HIST 427: 1900-1945 Group Timeline and Early Print Culture Thoughts

  1. Glynnis, I really enjoyed your summary of this weeks discussion topics. Although I have this almost hoarding affection for regular print books–as I get a daily reminder on the topics by seeing the literal book (cover) every day walking by it–I have found that I’ve come around to a form of your your strategy to use the digital medium for classroom work because as you so eloquently put it: “digital word tends to serve a more transient, disposable purpose.” Couldn’t agree more.

    1. Thank you, Andrew! I think there are a lot of us out there who have fairly large collections of books that may or may not get read as often as we might like. I’m thankful that we live in an age where articles and resources are so accessible online, (therefore not creating waste) rather than only by print.

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