I always thought I could learn whatever I needed to learn about computers, but as my life has gotten more complex, and computers keep changing, I find myself with over 12 years of email from school and three jobs, and more and different kinds of stuff coming all the time. I see four big things I'd like to do with my computing environment (home, work, phone, cloud) but I have no idea how to get started or what is the best way to do this. I need a computing mentor. [more inside]
Who are some important women in technology that are lesser-known in the world? Especially women of color, LGBTQ women, and non-American women? [more inside]
I'm looking for a technology tree for the early early history of human technology. I want one that is detailed but it doesn't need to go any further than the Classical age. Do you know of any resources on-line or have any book recommendations that would give me a good part of what I need? [more inside]
What are some subtle or lesser-known examples of current-day real-world USA being a dystopia? [more inside]
Due to some personal motivations, I've been reading a lot about paranoia lately and most of the delusions I hear about involve modern technology, ie. wire taps, hidden cameras, etc. What are some examples of paranoid delusions before that technology existed?
I'm pretty sure I spent two days confusing two different people named William F. Kruse. There's the William F. Kruse listed here in Wikipedia that belonged to the Communist Party and then joined Bell and Howell. He died in 1952 and has an archive in the Chronicling Illinois Collection. I thought THAT Kruse might also be the William F. Kruse who was writing for Educational Screen in the 1950s, because of the Bell and Howell connection. But now I don't think so because that Kruse was also writing educational technology histories into the late 1960s. But there his trail ends. Is there a best approach to finding out when someone died?
Why do black-and-white shows from the 1960s, especially live ones, have what looks to be a burn (dark shadows) around bright objects (around Walt's signature and around people's heads) and dodging effects (white glowing) around dark objects (around the jet-black suit jackets of the announcer and dancers)? I originally thought it was some beleagured production assistant manually burning the What's My Line signatures so that they'd be more high-contrast and thus more readable, but now I'm seeing it everywhere!
I've been working on putting together an annotated bibliography for my adviser over the past few days. I'm struck by how much work it is in terms of finding all of the articles, saving them, and then tracking backwards and forwards through citations to find related material. However as I've been doing this (and, in fact, each time I do any sort of review of the literature) I wonder what life was like before you had giant relational databases of material, not even counting things like writing up the report on a type writer. So, my question: if you've been in academia for a while, then what was life like before word processors / large relational databases of literature / instant collaboration and communication through email? And what sort of changes have you seen with the job as technology has advanced?
I am looking for examinations of the Internet and World Wide Web that use the structure and/or history of the city as a metaphor. [more inside]
Where can I find summaries of historical developments, technological breakthroughs, political and social changes etc. in a similar style as the Afterword in Charles Stross's anthology Toast (free download here)? I am interested in stuff that has happened in the last 30 or 40 years.
I'm looking for examples that illustrate a particular concept: that a technological / social advance is often accompanied by a kind of regression to earlier practices, until people work out how to exploit the benefits of that advance. Help me nail down this rather nebulous idea! [more inside]
I'm looking for 'Folk' Web Cultures. I am thinking of the recent take-down of Geocities, which seemed to refresh people's love of the naff, kitsch aesthetic it was famous for, as a prime example. What are some other folk cultures still lingering in the dark corners of the web? [more inside]
Know of any books that look at the effects of technology on the delivery of education? [more inside]
If an alien located on a planet 100 light years from here was to switch on a big, multi-frequency radio receiver, and record all the noises coming from outer space for the next hundred years, on all frequencies, how many soap operas, advertisements and new broadcasts would they pick up from Earth? Would a mass-market radio, similar to our Earthly equivalents, pick up anything? Over time, as the number of Earth transmissions increases exponentially, would the alien pick up a cacophony or a damp fizzle? [more inside]
Looking for affordable posters or other decorative artifacts, with a history-of-technology or retro-futuristic theme, for the stairwell and walls of our small elementary/middle school computer lab. [more inside]
How common were 200GB hard drives in the mid-1980s? Would institutions like the USGS have had access to them? Would general readers even have understood the term? [more inside]
If I had never seen the internet before, where would you direct me in 2011? What are the best news, film, music, art, fashion, history, technology, gossip, sports websites and blogs out there? [more inside]
What are some technologies that have more or less disappeared, only to reemerge at some other point (or in some other guise)? [more inside]
I've been thinking about the social impact of relatively mundane technologies, like air conditioning, largely because of a brief mention by Kevin Kelly in What Technology Wants. He says something along the lines of, "cheap air conditioning transformed the American southeast." So I'm looking for scholarly sources that discuss the transformative power of air conditioning on american culture. [more inside]
Can you point me to any good writing (research-based, speculative, or heck, even fictional) about the potential historical permanence or impermanence of digital media? I'm interested in both professional (theatrical movies, book publishing, maps...) and personal (digital snapshots, Livejournal, email...) forms of digital information storage. [more inside]
Could we make better swords today? [more inside]
Can you think of an example of when a color could be said to have "changed the world"? [more inside]
What inventions/societal changes besides cell phones have effectively "ruined" plot devices for stories in movies, TV, books, and so forth? [more inside]
I am looking for writings on mimesis in regards new, digital, hypertext and hypermedial technologies and cultures. [more inside]
I heard a term somewhere that referred to the modern phenomena of sounds being decoupled from what produces them, in the sense that it's no longer a one-to-one relationship between sound and thing. So whereas previously every time you heard a bark you knew it was a dog, now it could be a TV, a computer, or a robot dog. Likewise, a big professional sound system could sound like almost anything. I think the originator was an academic. I distinctly remembering seeing mention of this on wikipedia once. What was that term? Who coined it?
Looking for good books on the history of technologies. [more inside]
How is the meaning of art and artefacts being altered by the methods we use to: Experience, Define and Preserve them... In other words, in what ways have technologies been used to experience, re-define and/or preserve art and artifacts? [more inside]
What kinds of high-technology things exist now but will only come to light 50 or 100 years from now? Speculative, but asking for concrete answers. [more inside]
Please help me figure out how to obtain an electronic copy of an article titled "Why 1955? Explaining the Advent of Rock Music," by Richard A. Peterson. Google Books has a truncated version here, but I'd like the whole thing. [more inside]
I have an audio cassette tape which has been waterlogged and soaked in dirt for over 10 years. What are my options for respooling/fixing the tape with its contents intact? [more inside]
What are some good examples of technologies that end up being used for different or more numerous purposes than originally intended? [more inside]
What are some facts, rumors, and speculation about secretive/mysterious organizations or events? [more inside]
A colleague of mine wants to show a film (or clips from various films) to her class of media undergrads to help them better understand the pre-wired world -- before the Internet, ubiquitous PCs, mobile phones, 300 cable channels, etc. -- and specifically the 1960s milieu of IBM mainframes, punch cards, and centralized computing. Are there any films or even scenes from films that come to mind?