[iDC] Introduction: The Internet as Playground and Factory

Greg Downey gdowney at wisc.edu
Tue Jun 9 14:02:24 UTC 2009

Hi there.  My name is Greg Downey.  I was also kindly invited into  
this discussion (and upcoming conference) by Trebor, who asked me to  
introduce myself to the list.

I'm currently a professor the University of Wisconsin-Madison in two  
departments at once: Journalism & Mass Communication and Library &  
Information Studies.  My training was rooted in two different areas,  
however: History of Technology and Human Geography.  I study the  
"history and geography of information/communication technology and  
labor," which can be a mouthful.  Examples work better.  My first book  
was _Telegraph messenger boys: Labor, technology, and geography,  
1850-1950_ (Routledge, 2002) and my second was _Closed captioning:  
Subtitling, stenography, and the digital convergence of text with  
television_ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).  Each of these  
explored a different global information/communication infrastructure  
(telegraph, television) through the lens of a particular labor process  
and set of rather unusual laborers within that infrastructure (largely  
male teens carrying messages through city streets, largely female  
adults transforming spoken audio into textual screen images).  In  
between I also co-edited, with Aad Blok of the International Institute  
for Social History, a volume entitled _Uncovering labour in  
information revolutions, 1750-2000_ (Cambridge University Press,  
2004).  Right now I'm working on the research for my third book, which  
will look at the "metadata labor" of library professionals in the  
decades between World War II and the World Wide Web -- and hopefully  
it will be some aspect of this work that I'll be bringing to the  
conference for discussion.


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Greg Downey
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
School of Library & Information Studies
Department of Geography (joint appointment)
Department of History of Science (affiliate appointment)
University of Wisconsin-Madison
5115 Vilas Hall, 821 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706 USA
gdowney at wisc.edu

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