Reflections on Downey Reading

As a whole, reading Downey really highlighted to me the progression of technology for each category and how it affected the people. As new technology rises, people’s habits and behaviors change. This includes the example of living rooms changing and more households had access to television (38). People went from the fireplace being the gathering point to the television being the center of focus in the living room.

The next significance was how the technology changes affect people in the work place. The example of how much man-power it took to effectively run networked-communication of “. . . Outdoor linemen, . . . Indoor operators, . . . Uniformed child messengers . . .” for the successful implementation of early communication networks highlights how significant a role people have doing very hands on jobs to make these forms of communication functional (Downey, 30-32). Another example of this is with Amazon as as an online store where the consumer only has to use the internet to make purchases. There is, however, a lot of hands-on labor behind the scene to make this platform successful. “In all of these ways, the new virtual economy cannot escape a very old physical fact: it takes human labor to make the web work.” (Downey, 57).

Lastly, the displacement of workers as technology shifts is something highlighted in the reading. An example of this is discussed in relation to the Bell industry when 32,000 operators were hired to keep up with call demands. These positions, however, end up becoming obsolete as the technology advances to where the customer can dial their own telephone (Downey, 31).

Technology is always shifting and changing and causing people’s lives to change with it. This idea truly highlights how focused our lives are around communication and information technology when there is access to it.

Works cited:

Downey, Gregory John. Technology and Communication in American History. Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 2011.

3 Replies to “Reflections on Downey Reading”

  1. Ruth I liked how you went into how technology was really a catalyst in the work force. You also describe how it shifted the work force even in today standards. You can see that machines and technology are taking over the jobs that some people had.

  2. It is interesting to think about how human labor is still necessary to maintain all the technology we have. That was one part of the book that stood out to me as well. I wonder how far we will go in creating automated forms of technology and moving away from human based labor.

  3. I like how you mentioned how Downey discussed how people’s habits changed as new technology was created. I mentioned this in my discussion post, but what you’re saying reminds me of how Downey discusses sociotechnical theory within the context of the information age and how we can’t understand technological advancements without understanding human behavior. I also really like how you mentioned how impactful and influential technology is in our lives.

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