Notes: The History and Theory of Media/Technology Change

Garnet Hertz - Last updated 25 November 2006


This is project intends to:

  1. Transcribe and upload relevant citations from key texts related to history and theory of media/technology change,
  2. Make these citations searchable in database format, and
  3. Visualize this information in a manner that graphically highlights interconnections and gaps between technologies, chronologies, geographies, and theories.


Currently in Phase 1: "Transcribe and upload relevant citations from key texts related to history and theory of media/technology change." As of 09 June 2006, over 30,000 words in over 500 citations/notes from thirteen texts (painfully and lovingly hand-typed, ~99% of which are currently not online) have been transcribed and encoded in entries with relevant keywords and source information. These entries have been tagged in a custom syntax that is both programmatically parsable and human-readable:

[pagenumber] {keyword1, keyword2, keyword3} The citation is here, directly from the text, with original emphasis and hopefully all "ƒåñçy" characters maintained. [And it sometimes includes some of my own comments.]

This format is designed to ease the future import of these citations and sources into a topic map, semantic network or database (during phases 2 and 3).


These citations are listed in "flat file" format: just plain old text typed out into a webpage. You can't search them, jump between them, or map them visually. Citations from each book are listed on one page, including some book summaries and external links. [Page numbers] are visible, as well as {keywords}, with the citation and a few [interspersed comments].

Akrich, Madeline (1992) - The De-Scription of Technical Objects

[6 citations]

Akrich & Latour (1992) - A Summary of a Convenient Vocabulary for the Semiotics of Human and Nonhuman Assemblies

[17 citations, 2 illustrations]

Bijker, Wiebe E. (1992) - The Social Construction of Fluorescent Lighting, or How an Artifact Was Invented in Its Diffusion Stage

[5 citations]

Bijker & Law (1992) - Shaping Technology / Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change

[18 citations]

Bolter, Jay David & Grusin, Richard - Remediation: Understanding New Media
[30 citations]

Carlson, W. Bernard (1992) - Artifacts and Frames of Meaning: Thomas A. Edison, His Managers, and the Cultural Construction of Motion Pictures

[13 citations]

Crary, Jonathan - Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture (October Books)

[24 citations]

Crary, Jonathan - Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century (October Books)

[66 citations]

The Future of the Book
Duguid, Paul - Material Matters: Aspects of the past and futurology of the book

[31 citations]

Flusser, Vilem - Writings (Electronic Mediations)

[16 citations]

Foucault, Michel - Nietzsche, Genealogy, History
[2 citations]

Foucault, Michel - Society Must Be Defended
[1 citation]

Foucault, Michel - The Archaeology of Knowledge
(1969, translated 1972)
[52 citations]

Foucault, Michel - The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences

[3 citations]

Galloway, Alexander R. (2004) - Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization

[x citations]

Hankins, Thomas L. & Silverman, Robert J. - Instruments and the Imagination

[81 citations]

Latour, Bruno (1992) - Where Are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts

[12 citations, 5 illustrations]

Law & Callon (1992) - The Life and Death of an Aircraft: A Network Analysis of Technical Change

[1 citation, 4 illustrations]

Lovink, Geert (2003) - My First Recession: Critical Internet Culture in Transition

[15 citations, discussion with author]

Marvin, Carolyn - When Old Technologies Were New : Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century

[105 citations]

McLuhan, Marshall - Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

[18 citations]

McLuhan, Marshall - The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man
[21 citations]

Nye, David E. - Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940

[81 citations]

Rogers, Everett M. (2003) - Diffusion of Innovations, Fifth Edition

[0 citations, 13 illustrations]

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang - Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century

[10 citations]

Thacker, Eugene (2004) - Protocol Is as Protocol Does

[7 citations]


This database of citations is currently searchable through an offline index/concordance via NoteBook, which features 14 auto-generated indexes to browse through this information. These indexes are currently not online because (to the best of my knowledge) NoteBook does not support exporting of indexes to HTML.

These texts are in the process of being integrated into a more useful structure. The key method of navigation through this text will be through {declared keywords}, which will be likely defined into different primary types:

  • mechanisms / physical artifacts / technologies / instruments / "media"
  • dates / date ranges
  • places / locations
  • concepts / theories / ideas / statements
Then, this database will enable users to browse citations by mechanism ("kymograph"), by date or range ("1800-1840"), by location ("Germany") or by concept ("utopia"). Other functions may be useful, like being able to browse to the next/previous citation in the text. Each citation will have page number and be a child of the book title and author, with a link to a short summary of the book it is found in.


The third phase of this project includes the visualization of this information in a manner that graphically highlights interconnections and gaps between technologies, chronologies, geographies, and theories.

Some examples of concept, topic, or semantic maps are as follows:

Basic Topic Map:

Graphical visualization of text similarities by Magnus Rembold and Jurgen Spath:

FreeMind mind mapping software:

Peter Cho:

txtkit by Schoenerwissen/OfCD:

Ciro Cattuto:


More texts will be drawn from or There is expected to be about 50 texts here by Summer 2007.

Garnet Hertz -