The enduring policy conflicts of the Information Age increasingly demand a history of technology that acknowledges the legacy of accumulated user experience across successive paradigms and generations of communication media. Interrogation of the histories of Internet, teletext, videotex and bulletin board system (BBS) technologies, reveal the 1980s as a watershed decade for the radically decentralized socialization of digital communication. While each new technical paradigm requires cultural practices to socialize the products of engineering, the prevalence of elite- and infrastructure-focused histories reflect a systematic preference for describing centralized processes of engineering. This work integrates disparate accounts of technological innovation, diffusion, adoption and translation, pointing the way toward a more flexible, user-focused, people’s history of the Internet.
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Thesis advisor: Smith, Richard
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