Critical Histories of Information and Communication Technologies


INF2243H — Critical Histories of Information and Communication Technologies

This seminar approaches information and communication technologies from critical and historical perspectives. We will investigate theories of the relations among technology, information, ideology, culture, and social structure, as well as methods for studying those relations.

First, we will survey the available theories and methods for understanding large scale technological systems, including the social construction of technology, technological determinism, feminist technology studies, and the political economy of information and communication. We will ask about the interests, motives, and tactics of news media, pop culture producers, amateurs, universities, corporations, and governments in promoting, sustaining, and interpreting information and communication systems.

Finally, we will ask how information systems mediate, alter, or entrench power relations and cultural practices. While our focus will be on media and information technologies, more theoretical or methodological readings will necessarily cover other systems. Case studies may include investigations of writing, the printing press, industrialized printing, telegraphy, telephony, computing, and the internet.