October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
So far, my New Media’s Past and Future class has focused on the stories people –early Christians, Rousseau, Marx, Monsanto Death Corp, Vannevar Bush– have told about the(ir) (versions of the) future — what glorious sun shall rise tomorrow, and how shall it cast into the darkness our hitherto imperfect knowledge! -and all that melodramatic white guy shit.
The next section of the class takes that same basic idea –that the stories we tell about The Future are as much a snapshot of the (well, the storyteller’s) present as they are prophesies about some great big beautiful tomorrow (hat tip Robert Nisbet)— and applies it to the stories we tell about the past. I’m clumsily describing this approach as “looking forward/looking backwards,” which I will apply to tomorrow’s discussion of the telegraph. This week and next, we’ll be considering what kinds of stories people have told about telegraphy, and more importantly, what kinds of arguments these stories end up making — particularly when a newer new technology godzillas into the frame and forces everyone to rewrite the historical narrative, i.e. pfft who needs a telegraph when you can just CALL someone.