Media archaeology

From Turing to Abbey Road, Kentish radar stations to Bletchley Park

Authored by: Jussi Parikka

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474

10.4324/9781315756202.ch5

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Abstract

British media history has many great stories to tell. It has been one of the biggest inspirations for a range of narratives and for scholars that have tried to decipher the main trends of the media of modernity; from the nineteenth-century establishment of standardized mail to the twentieth century Britain of the BBC that, for instance, for this author became a central symbol when he turned on the television in 1980s Finland. BBC content traveled across national boundaries, both in the structural form it provided for public broadcasting and through Bergerac and the FA Cup Finals over the years. British exports from television to microcomputing continued and have established such a status that writing Britain into media history is rather redundant. It is already there, and always was there; even before actual media technologies became subsumed into the consolidated consensus about media as mass media. Indeed, Britain was already there with its investment in transatlantic cables as well as its pioneering scientific inquiries in electricity and electromagnetism and its prehistories of computing from Babbage to Turing and so forth. Early on, British media history was already transnational, like the transatlantic cables and telegraph clicks. It is irreducible to a simple national story, and is more like something that presents an interesting case for consideration in relation to both the master narratives and the minor themes of media history.

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