INFO 2921/HIST 2920/AMST/ECE 2980

Inventing an Information Society

ECE/ENGRG 298 and S&TS/HIST/Info Sci 292

Inventing an Information Society

Spring 2007

Phillips Hall 219

Professor Ronald Kline
MWF, 10:10-11:00

Rhodes Hall 394
rrk1@cornell.edu
Office Hours: W, 11:15-12:15, or by appointment
Required Texts

  • Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications (New York: Basic Books, 2004).
  • Cecelia Tichi, Electronic Hearth: Creating an American Television Culture (Oxford Univ. Press, 1991).
  • Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 2nd. ed. (Colorado: Westview Press, 2004).
  • Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, 2nd, ed. (Boston, 1954).

Optional Texts

  • Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine (Boston, 1981).
  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (New York, 1984).

Course Work (Grading)

Weekly reading responses and participation in discussion sections (15%)

3 essays, 4-5 pages each (20% each), based on readings and lectures.

Final essay on one of the Optional Texts (25%).

 

Course Schedule   (There is a Discussion Section every Monday, unless otherwise noted)

Week 1 Jan. 22-26

Introduction; Pre-electrical Communication & Media; Theories of Electricity & Magnetism.

Reading:      Starr, Introduction, chaps. 3-4.

No Discussion Section

Week 2

Jan. 29-Feb. 2

Wiring the World in the 19th Century: The Telegraph

Reading: Starr, chap. 5 and pp. 212-215.
Week 3   Feb. 5-9

Invention of the Telephone and AT&T

Reading: Starr, pp. 191-212.
Week 4   Feb. 12-16

Wireless Communication before World War I

Reading: Starr, pp. 215-230.

Week 5   Feb. 19-23

Reinventing Radio

Reading: Starr, chaps. 10-11

Week 6      Feb. 26-Mar. 2

The Battle between Mechanical and Electronic Television; Creating a Television Culture

Reading:   Tichi, chaps. 2, 3, 5, 6, 8.
Week 7      Mar. 5-9

Information Processing and Computing before World War II

Reading:    Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, chaps. 1-3.

Week 8   Mar. 12-16

Inventing the Electronic Computer

Reading: Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, chaps. 4-5, 7.

Mar. 19-23      Spring Break

Week 9 Mar. 26-30

Cybernetics and Cyborgs

Reading:  Wiener, chaps. 1-3, 10

Week 10 Apr. 2-6

Early Software Industry; Peak of IBM

Reading:    Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, chaps. 6, 8
Week 11 Apr. 9-13

Social Meanings of Computers; Advent of Microelectronics

Reading:  Wiener, chaps. 4, 5, 7
Week 12 Apr. 16-20

From Minis to Laptops

Reading:    Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, chaps. 9-11.

Week 13 Apr. 23-27

New Forms of Communications; Theories of an Information Society

Reading:      Wiener, chaps. 9, 11.

Week 14 Apr. 30- May 4

(Still) Inventing the Internet

Reading:   Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, chap. 12.