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Lisa Gitelman

Lisa Gitelman is Professor of English and Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is the coeditor of New Media, 1710–1915 (2003) and author of Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (2006), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Media, History, and the Data of Culture

In Always Already New, Lisa Gitelman explores the newness of new media while she asks what it means to do media history. Using the examples of early recorded sound and digital networks, Gitelman challenges readers to think about the ways that media work as the simultaneous subjects and instruments of historical inquiry. Presenting original case studies of Edison's first phonographs and the Pentagon's first distributed digital network, the ARPANET, Gitelman points suggestively toward similarities that underlie the cultural definition of records (phonographic and not) at the end of the nineteenth century and the definition of documents (digital and not) at the end of the twentieth. As a result, Always Already New speaks to present concerns about the humanities as much as to the emergent field of new media studies. Records and documents are kernels of humanistic thought, after all--part of and party to the cultural impulse to preserve and interpret. Gitelman's argument suggests inventive contexts for "humanities computing" while also offering a new perspective on such traditional humanities disciplines as literary history.Making extensive use of archival sources, Gitelman describes the ways in which recorded sound and digitally networked text each emerged as local anomalies that were yet deeply embedded within the reigning logic of public life and public memory. In the end Gitelman turns to the World Wide Web and asks how the history of the Web is already being told, how the Web might also resist history, and how using the Web might be producing the conditions of its own historicity.

Titles by This Editor

Edited by Lisa Gitelman

We live in the era of Big Data, with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta- denotes a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every “like” stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but “raw,” that we shouldn’t think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated, protected, and interpreted. The book’s essays describe eight episodes in the history of data from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining; how data are variously “cooked” in the processes of their collection and use; and conflicts over what can—or can’t—be “reduced” to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept; describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data; discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards; and consider contemporary “dataveillance” of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation.

Essay authors:

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Kevin R. Brine, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Steven J. Jackson, Virginia Jackson, Markus Krajewski, Mary Poovey, Rita Raley, David Ribes, Daniel Rosenberg, Matthew Stanley, Travis D. Williams

Reminding us that all media were once new, this book challenges the notion that to study new media is to study exclusively today's new media. Examining a variety of media in their historic contexts, it explores those moments of transition when new media were not yet fully defined and their significance was still in flux. Examples range from familiar devices such as the telephone and phonograph to unfamiliar curiosities such as the physiognotrace and the zograscope. Moving beyond the story of technological innovation, the book considers emergent media as sites of ongoing cultural exchange. It considers how habits and structures of communication can frame a collective sense of public and private and how they inform our apprehensions of the "real." By recovering different (and past) senses of media in transition, New Media, 1740-1915 promises to deepen our historical understanding of all media and thus to sharpen our critical awareness of how they acquire their meaning and power.

Contributors:
Wendy Bellion, Erin C. Blake, Patricia Crain, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Geoffrey B. Pingree, Gregory Radick, Laura Burd Schiavo, Katherine Stubbs, Diane Zimmerman Umble, Paul Young.