This week we discussed the Control Revolution by James R. Beniger. In this book, Beniger makes several arguments in regards to the evolution of the information world. Beniger published this book in 1986, which is quite astonishing because a lot of the subject matter he discusses has changed rapidly and dramatically since then, with the expansion of personal computer, the Internet, and now smart phones and other devices. He claims that the changes being seen during his day and in the future were all actually set in motion in the late nineteenth century. Events that occurred nearly one hundred years ago helped the information society emerge. In class, we discussed that in the nineteenth century the focus of life was shifting from a small, local community to society as a whole. Life was no longer based upon small-town life, but rather on whole social classes and broader groups of people. Information is at the center of how society comes to function during this time. In addition to discussing this topic in depth, we also examined a more current issue of Blockbuster and its’ failure to revolutionize to meet the demands of the people. We determined that it was ultimately a corporation that held onto outdated notions of peoples’ needs, which led to its downfall. It was really interesting to discuss this and realize that we witnessed a certain kind of technological service become obsolete in our own lifetimes. I remember going to Blockbuster as a child, but I like many other Americans, have discovered the more convenient options available today and now use Netflix or Redbox. It is fascinating to imagine what other technological changes are to come in this information revolution and to predict which of the technologies or services we use today will become the next Blockbuster.
This was our last week of regular class and next week we will begin presentations on our own research projects. I am very excited to see what everyone else has been working on. There seems to be a very wide array of topics all relating to politics and technology, so it should be interesting!