Field Description

Revolutionary advances in the speed and capacity of information transmission can blind us to thinking that we are living in the first information revolution, but students studying IT and social media need to be aware of the earlier social and technological revolutions of the printed book, the telegraph, the radio, the telephone, and the television, among others.   Students interested in this research field should enroll in History and Information courses to understand both how the social character of information has changed across time and space, as well as the technical aspects of how information becomes encoded in specific technologies.  Students are also encouraged to take sociology courses that underscore the social contexts and dimensions of technological innovations; anthropology courses, where they can learn about the cultural frameworks that make technological revolutions possible. There are also relevant courses in education, economics, political science, and media studies.  Those interested in the impact of new technologies in the humanities and visual culture should explore relevant courses in Art History, Comparative Literature, and English.

New information technologies raise a series of exciting topical research questions: How are personality and human networks changing through the use of social media? How is mental life being externalized in new technologies and with what consequences for identity and memory? How are notions of privacy and forms of surveillance changing and how do different nation-states constitute the boundaries of privacy?  How have political activism and social movements been transformed by new media?  How are the new technologies affecting basic cognitive capabilities, distributing intelligence, and redrawing the boundaries between the real and the virtual?  How have new information technologies enabled changes in the operations of firms and the global division of labor?  What is the nature of the new digital divide and the consequences of asymmetrical access to information?