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A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet Hardcover – Dec 6 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (Dec 6 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107004357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107004351
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,147,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Based on a truly impressive range (as well as amount) of reading, arguing an original and convincing thesis, and written in a lucid and engaging style, this book deserves to reach a wide audience of students and scholars alike." - Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

"The ambition and sweep of Marshall Poe's analysis of media make it different from anything else I have read on the topic. Many modern 'consumers' of media, in all its forms, have a vague sense that technological advances are altering their sense of the world in ways they can't fully appreciate in real time. Poe's book is a big advance in helping citizens understand the opportunities and problems the new media landscape offers." - James Fallows, The Atlantic

"A History of Communications is clearly a labor of love, and Poe brings the historian's craft to bear on it." -Science, Christopher Kelty

Book Description

A History of Communications advances a new theory of media that explains the origins and impact of different forms of communication - speech, writing, print, electronic devices, and the Internet - on human history in the long term, allowing us to see for the first time what is truly new about the Internet, what is not, and where it is taking us.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked Classic July 8 2013
By Allan Collins - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used to teach a course at Northwestern University on Orality, Literacy, and Cybercy. I wish that this book had been written sooner so that I might have included in my course on the history of communications. Marshall Poe breaks the history into five eras: the eras of orality, writing, printing, audio-visual, and computers. Of course no medium drives out earlier media, but instead we accumulate different ways of communicating. As earlier writers such as Elizabeth Eisenstein, Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, and Neil Postman have made clear, each new medium has profound effects on society.

Poe analyzes each of the five media in terms of eight critical characteristics: accessibility, privacy, fidelity, volume, velocity, range, persistence, and searchability. He looks at these from the point of view of both the sender and receiver. Most importantly he analyzes effect of these characteristics on social practices and cultural values. This is a grand theory about the effects of different media, and everyone who wants to understand how media affect society will find this book both well written and quite revealing.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for academics in the field but tedious for someone with a "general interest" in the subject Sept. 15 2016
By Steven A. Boggs - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are an academic interested in this topic, this is probably a good book. I am an academic, but not in this area, and my interest is more general. As a result, I find this book tedious.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers many, many, many important questions about who we are! Oct. 9 2014
By John Ribbler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In less than 300 pages, Poe offers a thorough perspective on how humans came to be who we are and why we do what we do. . This book is both philosophically awesome and offers practical clues for anyone who believes that a mature understanding of communication is essential to effective living.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 5 2015
By Franz J. Monnig - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I expected. Oct. 23 2013
By ROBERT OLIVAREZ - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exactly what I expected I am happy with my purchase and would recommend to anyone who is interested in this book.