[SIGCIS-Members] New book: Open Standards and the Digital Age

Andrew Russell arussell at stevens.edu
Wed May 14 07:17:53 PDT 2014

Hello everyone - 

I’m very happy to be spreading the word that my book, _Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks_, is now available from Cambridge University Press, and all the usual online bookstores.  

I’m even happier to be able to take this opportunity to thank everyone in SIGCIS for your generous and critical engagement, and for providing a rich and stimulating environment for all of us to work together.  

Some details about my book are below.  Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Dearborn this fall! 



Andrew L. Russell
Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats

How did openness become a foundational value for the networks of the twenty-first century? 

Open Standards and the Digital Age answers this question through an interdisciplinary history of information networks that pays close attention to the politics of standardization. For much of the twentieth century, information networks such as the monopoly Bell System and the American military's Arpanet were closed systems subject to centralized control. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, engineers in the United States and Europe experimented with design strategies to create new digital networks. In the process, they embraced discourses of "openness" to describe their ideological commitments to entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and participatory democracy. 

The rhetoric of openness has flourished - for example, in movements for open government, open source software, and open access publishing - but such rhetoric also obscures the ways the Internet and other "open" systems still depend heavily on hierarchical forms of control.

1. Introduction
2. Ideological origins of open standards I: telegraph and engineering standards, 1860s–1900s
3. Ideological origins of open standards II: American standards, 1910s–1930s
4. Standardization and the monopoly Bell System, 1880s–1930s
5. Critiques of centralized control, 1930s–1970s
6. International standards for the convergence of computers and communications, 1960s–1970s
7. Open systems and the limits of democratic design, 1970s–1980s
8. The Internet and the advantages of autocratic design, 1970s–1990s
9. Conclusions: open standards and an open world.

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