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Introduction to the History of Communication

Evolutions and Revolutions

Terence P. Moran

An Introduction to the History of Communication: Evolutions and Revolutions provides a comprehensive overview of how human communication has changed and is changing. Focusing on the evolutions and revolutions of six key changes in the history of communication – becoming human; creating writing; developing print; capturing the image; harnessing electricity; and exploring cybernetics – the author reveals how communication was generated, stored, and shared. This ecological approach provides a comprehensive understanding of the key variables that underlie each of these great evolutions-revolutions in human communication. Designed as an introduction for history of communication classes, the text examines the past, attempting to identify the key dynamics of change in these human, technical, semiotic, social, political, economic, and cultural structures, in order to better understand the present and prepare for possible future developments.

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6. Becoming Electric Evolution and Revolution in Electrographic and Electrophonic Communication 193 7. Becoming Cybernetic Evolution and Revolution in Digital Communication 255 8. Becoming Critical Thinkers About Evolutions and Revolutions in Human Communication 297 Notes 329 Bibliography 351 Index 365 viii contents Like all authors, I am indebted to a long list of thinkers, writers, teachers, and colleagues who have helped me to think critically about the history of human communication. Most of my intellectual debts are noted in the specific refer- ences found in this book, but here I wish to pay special attention to some peo- ple most directly responsible for the conception and execution of this book. Although we never met in person, I have read most of the works of Jacques Ellul published in English, and for some years prior to his death in 1994 we car- ried on a charming correspondence via old fashioned air mail. Among authors I read and met are Joseph Campbell, Edmund Carpenter, Eric Havelock, Marshall McLuhan, and Lewis Mumford. All helped me to think more criti- cally about communication, media, and change. While a student at New York University, I had the good fortune to study with three pioneers of modern media study—Charles Siepmann, George Gordon, and Neil Postman. Neil was my teacher, my advisor, and my mentor. Later, we became col- leagues and friends. Neil and I shared an office, ideas, and some key friends— chiefly Charles Weingartner and Christine Nystrom. Together, Neil and I, aided by Charlie’s...

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