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2024 | Book

Understanding Information History

The Case of America in 1920


About this book

Microhistory is a technique that has been used effectively by writers of both fiction and nonfiction. It enables the author to cut through the complexities of large swaths of history by focusing on a particular time and place. Microhistories are particularly useful in historical study when a subfield has recently arisen and there are not yet enough monographic studies from which to draw general patterns. This microhistory focuses on a single year (1920) across the United States, with the goal of understanding the various roles of information in this society. It gives greater emphasis to the informational aspects of traditional historical topics such as farming, government bureaucracy, the Spanish flu pandemic, and Prohibition; and it gives greater attention to information-rich topics such as libraries and museums, schools and colleges, the financial services and office machinery industries, scientific research institutions, and management consultancies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. America in 1920: An Information Microhistory
This chapter presents a microhistory of America in the year 1920 from an information perspective. Topics include an overview of America in 1920 from a traditional historical perspective, four examples of how traditional accounts of events from 1920 might be retold in a different way when giving information issues greater consideration, ways in which an information history perspective might offer greater historical attention to new technologies and to information institutions, how various academic disciplines have treated the concept of information, and how an information-oriented account of this history differs from a traditional historical account.
William Aspray
Chapter 2. An Illustrated Information History of 1920 America
This chapter retells the information microhistory of America in 1920 that was told in Chap. 1. However, here the focus is on reading images—mostly photographs but also some artwork. Not only does this analysis provide a different perspective on this information history, it also provides a ready resource to illustrate class lectures or presentations.
William Aspray
Chapter 3. What is Information History and How Do We Study It?
Information history is still an emerging field, and there are many open questions about its extent, its content, and its methods. This chapter draws upon the findings of the information microhistory of America in 1920 presented in Chaps. 1 and 2 to join the discussion about the nature and theories of information history.
William Aspray
Understanding Information History
William Aspray
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