[SIGCIS-Members] Understanding information history: an Aspray for the new year

Gerard Alberts G.Alberts at uva.nl
Thu Jan 4 06:47:19 PST 2024

Readers of this list might be interested to know that the history of computing series<https://www.springer.com/series/8442/books> I edit, gives authors the chance to write shorter manuscripts called SpringerBriefs in History of Computing<https://www.springer.com/series/15184>. They are published more quickly than a full-length manuscript and are available to readers in both printed and electronic form. The briefs format is open to trying your novel ideas: essays in the true sense of the word.

We have just published a SpringerBrief (98 pp.) by Bill Aspray, entitled Understanding Information History: The Case of America in 1920<https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-44134-9>.
Scholars have been writing about information history for approximately 25 years, about half as long as our tradition of scholarly writing about computer history. There is still discussion underway of the nature and scope of information history, and this brief book provides a heavily illustrated case study. The book retells the history of the United States in 1920 from an information perspective. It provides an alternative, information-oriented account of commonly told stories about farming, government administration, the Spanish Flu pandemic, and Prohibition. It points the reader to the history of a number of information-oriented institutions and activities that the traditional histories only occasionally cover: the print media, libraries, public and higher education, advertising, scientific research institutions, management consulting, financial services industries, office appliances, and communications technologies. It then examines academic efforts to “discipline information” drawn from the precursor areas of computer science and information science. A final theory chapter discusses what one can learn from this case study about the nature and scope of information history. The book is intentionally written to be easy to assign to students or serve as the basis for lecture notes and illustrations.

Thus, we recommend for all students of information history: an Aspray for the new year.
Best wishes,
SpringerBriefs in History of Computing<https://www.springer.com/series/15184>
Book series History of Computing<https://www.springer.com/series/8442/books>
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