posts about or somewhat related to ‘history’
Just as victory has many fathers, great events often have many birthdays. We choose Oct. 29, 1969, as Day One of the Internet (which would make it 44 years old today) for a good reason. That was when the very first message moved between the first two computers connected on the new network designed to link the numerous computer science projects funded by the government. →
Happy Birthday, Internets
Via the Los Angeles Times:
That morning, an operator at Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s lab in UCLA’s Boelter Hall began tapping out the word “LOGIN” and sending it to a sister computer at SRI, a government contractor, in Menlo Park, Calif. (The linked computers were known as Interface Message Processors, or IMPs; UCLA’s was IMP-1.) He got as far as “LO” before the SRI unit crashed. Later that day the bug was fixed and the message completed. Within a year, ARPAnet linked 10 computers across the country.
FJP: You can quibble with dates but this seems as good as one as any. Just remember, the Internet isn’t the Web (implemented in 1989) and the Web isn’t the Internet.
Sound Portraits, which was established in 1994 by the brilliant radio producer David Isay, was the predecessor to StoryCorps. The mission was to produce radio documentaries (broadcast on NPR’s All Things Conisdered and Weekend Edition) profiling men and women “surviving in the margins”:
Told with care and dignity, the work depicts the lives of Americans living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. Sound Portraits frequently collaborates with people living in these hard-to-access corners of America, giving them tape recorders and microphones and helping them tell their own stories.
Witness to an Execution, which won a Peabody in 2000, includes interviews with men and women involved in the execution of death-row inmates at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas. These are people who have observed or administered executions countless times. (One-third of all executions in the US have taken place in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977). The piece was narrated by Warden Jim Willett, who oversaw all Texas executions.
Communications theorist James W. Carey, in Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph, from his book Communication as Culture (1989).
Carey’s essay discusses the development of standard time zones, which he says “served to overlay the world with a grid of time in the same way the surveyor’s map laid a grid of space on old cities, the new territories of the West, or the seas.” Standardizing time allowed for it to be used to control and coordinate activities.
In the above excerpt, he considers the sabbath as a time zone that could be “penetrated” and explains how William Randolph Hearst did so by popularizing the idea of the Sunday newspaper. This perspective could also be applied to commercial broadcasting and the advent of 24-hour television. He writes:
It was Hearst with his New York Sunday World who popularized the idea of Sunday newspaper reading and created, in fact, a market where none had existed before—a sabbath market. Since then the penetration of the sabbath has been one of the “frontiers” of commercial activity. Finally, when the frontier in space was officially closed in 1890, the “new frontier” became the night, and since then there has been a continuous spreading upward of commercial activity.
Murray Melbin (1987) has attempted to characterize “night as a frontier.” In terms of communication the steady expansion of commercial broadcasting into the night is one of the best examples. There were no 24-hour radio stations in Boston, for example, from 1918 through 1954; now half of the stations in Boston operate all night. Television has slowly expanded into the night at one end and at the other initiated operations earlier and earlier. Now, indeed, there are 24-hour television stations in major markets.
FJP: It’s a pretty interesting thought—the colonization, in essence—of time, by media. I discovered the reading in a journalism history course I’m taking with Andie Tucher, whom we’ve interviewed here on the FJP. Check out her videos. —Jihii
[Was hard] news ever commercial?
Gerald J. Baldasty’s book, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century, makes a case clear as spring water that hard news has almost never been a mass commercial enterprise.
The American newspapers of the 1820s and early 1830s were creatures of political parties, edited by zealots. Essentially propaganda sheets, these newspapers were “devoted to winning elections,” as Baldasty wrote… Without newspapers, top political organizer Martin Van Buren once said, “we might as well hang our harps on willows.”
Political parties supported the papers financially, and when editors strayed from the party line into independence, the parties would dump their newspapers.
— Jack Shafer, Reuters. News Never Made Money, And Is Unlikely To.