Reactions to Downey

In Downey’s book, he highlights the ways in which communication has evolved over time with the rise of technology in America. Something that I found to be interesting was the question of whether or not “technology should be used to “augment” human interaction or to “automate” human action (p10). This was a question that was posed at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but is still relevant today.
Additionally, the ways that we talk and interact with technology have changed over time. Previously, technology was something that had been fixed, and now we’ve entered both a wireless and mobile world thus changing the ways in which we interact with it. Downey touches on telephones specifically and how with the advent of cell phones, it is always present on our bodies making us always present in the telephone network (p32). This is both exciting that technology has advanced this far, but also worrisome because it is so ingrained into our society and our lives.
Lastly, I found his ongoing discussions about privacy to be extremely relevant. While these questions about privacy began to arise with the creation of the post office, the creation of the radio made people question how far technology was going to play into their private lives. Ultimately, Downey does a great job of highlighting the ways in which communication has both changed and evolved throughout history while being conscientious of the ways in which it has impacted us socially, politically and economically.

Downey, Gregory. Technology and Communication in American History. American Historical Association. 2011.

2 thoughts on “Reactions to Downey

  1. I also related to the point made about privacy. Oversharing, the question of who has access to the information we share, and the role of government and private business in controlling information systems have always been issues that people have worried about. I often have suspicions towards technologies such as facial recognition systems. Today, the worry is less about information systems intruding into daily life, since we have become rather dependent on them, and more about who can access our information and what it is used for.

  2. I agree with you that it is interesting to think of ourselves as active players in the Information Age. Our technology augments interpersonal communication, and smart phones do not act independently of their owners.

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