I was really drawn to the story of Ada Lovelace. She not only had astounding intellect, but challenged a predominantly masculine field of scientific thinking. Lovelace did not let societal restrictions prohibit her work. I think it is important to recognize the role of her mother and the connections Ada had coming from a well to do family. Her mother in her own right had an interest in mathematics and encouraged Ada to study the “male field”. Having someone at a young age consistently support Ada to be more than a house wife was refreshing to read about. The access to tutors and intellectuals also benefited Ada. The article referencing Ada’s relationship with Augustus De Morgan specifically caught my eye. De Morgan declaring if she was a male, “they would have certainly made him an original mathematical investigator, perhaps a first-rate eminence”. Ada did not have to be a male to make an impact. It did not matter that Ada was a female, her mind analyzed and created equations like males could not. Ada’s writing on what would become computers to this day stands as amazing contributions to computer science. She deserves the utmost respect and recognition for her accomplishments.
When the assignments were finalized I became rather nervous. I had no idea what skills or actions involved making a silent film. The only experience of silent films I had under my belt came from my grandpa. He loved Charlie Chaplin and his films. However, making a silent film seemed to be a bit overwhelming going into the project. I went into the filming optimistic and hopeful for a positive result. Luckily, I realized making silent films were very entertaining. It was a creative experience and fun to be apart of. I personally found acting in the silent film to be something different for me. Prior to filming, the last time I acted was elementary school. I thought Cole, Jacob, Sean, and I made Charlie Chaplin proud. We improvised on a couple scenes and had to exaggerate body language. Having no verbal communication did not hinder the project. Stressing our body movements conveyed the various messages we tried to get across on specific scenes. I am extremely pleased with the finished product! Perhaps I will pursue a silent film acting career if all else fails.
Robert W. McChesney’s introduction in Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy : The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935 is centered around the political debate that ensued regarding commercial broadcasting. The problem that occurred during the early twentieth century was the fact a technology like the radio had never been seen before. Enforcing regulation upon a new entity of mass media created two opposing sides. McChesney even refers to the dilemma as a “hot potato” (5) in Congress. The radio was undoubtedly a topic that challenged politicians and legislators around the country, but the “broadcast reformers” failed in achieving their goal according to McChesney. A democratic capitalistic society promotes such practices like commercial broadcasting. McChesney even states the ‘broadcast reformers” only denied the inevitable by a mere couple years. I agree with the rationale here and the future held truth to McChesney’s societal depiction of the early radio. In the 1920s Americans made it clear that spending was not a real moral quandary. The Roaring 20s was a glimpse into a growing consumer society. However, the Great Depression and World War II delayed further growth. An outlet that helped people realize they enjoyed consuming was commercial broadcasting, the missing piece of advertising.
Lawrence R. Samuel’s Brought To You By: Postwar Television and the American Dream examined the next mass media innovation during the twentieth century, the television. The timing of the television becoming popular and the desire for a more consumer society was perfect. WWII had ended and everyone wanted to return back to normalcy. Samuel emphasized the cultural and social aspect of television throughout his introduction. I think the television brought qualities the radio did not. The only true example when the radio effectively connected with the entire nation was Roosevelt’s Fire Side chats. The television consistently produced programs into millions of American families’ living rooms every night. An intimate level of family began to form. Commercial television inherently accompanied the new mass media platform. Having a television was a societal expectation during the time. Samuel refers to the television as part of “the standard consumer package” (12). The market for producers became less complicated and more direct. I found it intriguing that the federal government even took steps to promote consumerism; by creating specific policies geared towards Americans to take on debt and pay it off later. Commercial television was set up for success. A key difference between the radio and television had to do with the economy. The radio took a little longer to become commercialized due to a struggling American economy. While on the other hand, the “American Dream” and television took place right when the American economy was stable. Commercial television only further contributed to a more consumer minded America.
The era of “Yellow Journalism” in the United States altered the way in which news was reported. The sensationalism of stories became common practice, at the forefront of the movement was Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Pulitzer owned the New York World and Hearst operated the New York Journal. However, the origins of “Yellow Journalism” can be traced to Richard F. Outcault. He created the comic character “Yellow Kid” in the comic strip “Hogan’s Alley” when employed by Pulitzer’s World. The public loved the “Yellow Kid” and contributed immensely to the success of the newspaper provider, until Hearst courted Outcault to work for the Journal. This added further animosity between Hearst and Pulitzer. The domestic quarrel of the World and Journal soon translated into international focus of Cuba. Both news outlets would publish outrageous and sometimes even false stories about the relationship between Cuba and Spain. The truth of a story did not matter to these men, objectivity was lost in the main focus of maximizing profits. The apex of “Yellow Journalism” was the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. The World and Journal used the tragedy of lost American lives for further pushing the idea of fantastical news. On February 17th, 1898 Pulitzer and Hearst published articles calling for the revenge and the need of United States government to intervene. “Yellow Journalism” effectively influenced American society to rally for the Spanish American War on false pretenses. It should also be taken into account “Yellow Journalism” occurred during a time the United States wanted to expand; to begin an imperialistic international agenda. Politicians that wished to expand overseas saw “Yellow Journalism” as an asset.
I found myself deeply invested in Halsey’s “The Beginnings of Daily Journalism in New York”. The article is unique in several ways. Acts as a secondary and primary source, informative of the era, the historiography of journalism, and from the perspective of a journalist in Francis Whiting Halsey. The scope of focus in the article is broad in the examination of journalism. Halsey touches on the infancy infrastructure implemented during the onset of early journalism, to the technological advancement of perceived communication mediums like the telegraph. However, the most impactful theme I took from the article was Hasley’s tone and vernacular about the quality of news during the early nineteenth century. He stated, “Men in 1800 knew not that anything better in newspapers was possible. Surely there can be no sense of deprivation when one does not know that he is deprived of ” (90). Hasley speaks about newspapers of the early 1800s with such disapproval and embarrassment. He felt the ultimate goal of a newspaper was to inform the public about details specific to the audience. This was not the case at first and resulted in an inferior end product to Hasley. The story of improper journalism did not stay stagnant fortunately, Hasley praised the revolution in the field later in the work. He said, ” With the vast increase in the number of educated people which higher education and the universities have produced, we are in the midst of a generation which scarcely could think its daily thoughts or live its accustomed life without newspapers” (97). Journalism, like anything, needed to go through a learning curve. It was crucial to the field for failure and incompetence because journalism in the early 20th century was an entirely new result.
The readings “Information Diffusion in the British Colonies” Chapter 2 in Chandler, Alfred D., and James W. Cortada. Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present and Roger Mellen’s “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America” seemed to have reoccurring themes. I noticed the American Revolution in both readings are examined at length because of the historical implications the event had on communication. One of the bigger points I took from “Information Diffusion in the British Colonies” was the power of the printing press in producing revolutionary mindsets in the colonies. According to Chandler and Cortada, “The American response to Common Sense was the single most important manifestation of the communication revolution of late eighteenth-century America. Before 1776 was over, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet was published in nineteenth American editions and achieved a circulation exceeding 100,000 copies in a country that possessed no 16 more than 500,000 household” (80). The Revolutionary time period in colonial America caused citizens to be informed and thus becoming increasing literate. A communicative new nation formed in the colonies because of Paine’s words being able to be produced on a grand scale. Mellen’s “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America” really looked at the repercussions of the American Revolution on colonial printing. The colonies relied on the European countries for paper, the war voided that possibility because of the English blockade and printing scarcity ensued. Various printing outlets would have to shutdown because of this and using every possible part of space for text on paper was not uncommon. Both readings paired well with each other and gave me more knowledge about the importance of the American Revolution. The social and cultural restrictions of the eighteen century gave birth to radical thought in the colonies. These sentiments mixed with technologies emerging such as the printing press created a perfect storm for a more informed and educated prototypical colonist.
I felt the photograph analysis assignment was a unique collaborative opportunity and enjoyable. I examined a photograph from “I Love Lucy” and Bill Hanley at Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. I was happy to have been given the time period of 1945-1970 because American life changed by leaps and bounds. That is why I chose the aforementioned pictures, they represent societal change that was possible by cause of technological progression. “I Love Lucy” communicated to thousands of Americans the “housewife” does not only have to be confined to the home. The character Lucy Ricardo acted as a revolutionary character and role model to women. She did not let the expectations of others limit her own personal goals. Lucy took the strictly enforced gender roles of the 1950s and flipped the switch. One of the more fascinating things I took from researching the show was the introduction to Little Ricky, the child of Lucy and Ricky on the program. When Little Ricky was introduced onto the show there were more viewers tuned in than for Eisenhower’s inauguration. “I Love Lucy” shows the power of commercialized television verse public interest news. For my second photograph, Bill Hanley seemed to be a clear choice. Woodstock would not have been nearly successful without Hanley. He designed and built the sound system for the concert. This by most in the industry profession seemed to be career suicide. Woodstock was something that has never been done prior, leaving the question how would music travel outdoors with thousands of concert goers. The fear was so high The Beatles and The Rolling Stones declined to perform to save the “integrity” of their music. However, even with the odds stacked against Hanley, the musical sound was communicated with the audience perfectly. He was calculated in setting up the sound system, Hanley made customized speakers and amplifiers because concert quality sound reinforcement equipment was not on the market in 1969. Both photographs involved different subject matter and time in history, but both fall under the category of the Information Age. At the core of the Information Age communication is the backbone of the field. Communication expanded with technological advancement. “I Love Lucy” communicated hope to American women that there was more to life than the stereotypical nuclear family. The television was vital because it provided a platform. While the Woodstock Festival communicated music at an unprecedented level with the medium of Hanley’s sound equipment expertise. I found the experience of completing the photograph assignment to be a pleasure and thoroughly appreciated researching photographs from 1945-1970 that are relevant to the History of the Information Age.
Downey explores the importance of technology and communication progressing within American History. He links the historiography with social, cultural, and economic advancement as well. Downey’s book consists of four chapters; Print Communication and Transportation: Constructing A National Market And An Imagined Community, Networked Interpersonal Communications: Searching For Control in Government, Industry, and Society, Broadcast Mass Communication: Creating A Consumer Culture Through Film, Radio, and Television, and Computer-Mediated Communication: Digital Convergence in A New Economy. In the first chapter Downey explored the importance of being literate and the “right” of doing so. He linked important time periods with the increasing need to communicate with one another. Prior to the American Revolution, printed press content was only owned by merchants, the church, and government (14). The call for American independence crossed the need for people to be properly informed, simply to be socially aware of what was going on. Downey also covers in the chapter the emergence of copyright with various literary works. A problem dating back to the seventeenth century of private profit or a public necessity of knowledge (23). I found it fascinating as communication and technology changed, so did the legality of what was acceptable and not. Chapter two linked the start of big business and a grand scale national economy with technology adapting for societal needs. Downey says, “The ‘system builders’ who supposedly invented these infrastructures, tied in to be public’s mind to famous names such as Samuel Morse, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell, gradually scaled up into complex, national corporate structures such as Western Union, Western Electric, and Bell System…..” (29). All these men came to be in the Gilded Age, a period of “robber barons”, but was that a motivation for these men? I have studied these inventors in previous classes and Edison falls under the category of an “intellectual robber baron”. Bell and Morse helped transition America to a more communicative society with true intentions of betterment. Edison handled his business rather ruthlessly, even known to steal ideas from his workers. The idea of the dehumanization due to technology can be seen as early as the 1870s, the notion being rich over doing the right thing. Towards the end of the chapter Downey linked the innate human behavior of having a cell phone on you at all times. “With the telephone always present on your body, you become always present to your telephone network” (32). I found this to be Downey’s attempt at a proclamation of humanity regressing. The want to check your phone at dinner, school, church, and other events is always present. An individual being more concerned what is in his/her pocket instead of what is happening in front of them is a sad inclination. Chapter three, Downey mainly focused on the radio, film, and television. The beginning of “wireless telegraphy ” to an audience (35). The motivation of broadcast radio started with true intentions of prioritizing “public interest, convenience, or necessity” (36) passed by the Radio Act of 1927. However, by the mid 1930s commercial network stations reached 97% of nighttime broadcasting (36). Downey in this chapter lays out the commercialization of communication, the behavior of consumers to want to hear more about products than tangible news. The political affects of the radio and television can not be missed in this chapter. Teddy Roosevelt’s “fire side” chats enabled him to connect to masses of people, communicate to citizens in the comfort of their own homes. While Downey discussed the television station PBS within Nixon’s views of being “liberal elite bias” (44). Television inherently became connected with political party, a dilemma seen today. The final chapter examined military usage of computer technology. “Here, rather than market rationality, defense rationalization has been cited for computer system-building” (49). The field of computer science has shown without properly educated and trained individuals, a digital defense can not be achieved. Downey pointed out that the government funded companies such as IBM, General Electric, and Bell Telephone (49) to assist in national defense. The public and private sectors began to coincide for the sake of security. I think Downey concluded his book fitting to this particular section and the book as a whole. He advocated for technology and communication as two central mediums needed for American society (61). The entities are not simple, but rather complex and must fit numerous needs for different parties. I found Downey’s book to be insightful and help me better understand the Information Age.