Friday, March 07, 2008

Up From Slavery

Booker T. Washington was once a slave but he later became a famous educator with freedom. His autobiographies not only attracted but also inspired and taught readers. Washington felt the new telegraph was of great importance amongst the slaves. This telegraph helped people to communicate whether they knew how to read or write and it was major during the Civil War. The Civil War made this telegraph important because communication was more expected.

"Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom came. It was a momentous and eventful day to all upon our plantation. We had been expecting it. Freedom was in the air, and had been for months. Deserting soldiers returning to their homes were to be seen every day. Others who had been discharged, or whose regiments had been paroled, were constantly passing near our place. The 'grape-vine telegraph' was kept busy night and day." (Up From Slavery, Page 2).

When the slaves were free, this caused great celebration. It was a good thing to visualize because it was such a happy moment for these people. They were fighting with all of their might to achieve their freedom and finally! Even with the war over, the telegraph was still a very important form of communication. It kept people busy, busy, busy with discussion and the happiness they shared just had to be spread. The closing of the Civil War was truly a lifetime change.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What held the telephone back...

"In the rise of any new medium, a key factor is its relationship to the dominant technology of the day. Starr. The Creation of the Media, pg. 193
It is easy to say that the telephone was the successor to the telegraph. But after it was invented, the powers at be, held back its introduction in order to safe guard their finances. Starr describes how "organization with a large stake in an existing technology are likely to try and preserve their financial investment." Meaning that telegraph companies were reluctant to transfer to a newer technology after they had invested so much money into a soon to be obsolete technology.
This is an example of a "mechanism of entrenchment", an established institution that hinders the growth of a new technology. Companies such as Western Union were threatened by the new means of communication and chose not to develop it. Eventually the Bell telephone company picked up the invention and began to develop it. The telegraph's legacy almost stopped the introduction of the telephone.


I heard it through the Grape-vine

In the reading chapter 1, "A slave Among Slaves" up from slavery, by Booker T. Washington , he discusses the communications between slaves , and how slaves recieved their information and news on the war. I think that this was very clever on the slaves behalf on how they were able to form this kind communication among themselves, when they were look at as being ignorant. This is to show you that people are people, and just like the slave owners of America needed newspaper, because they wanted to know what was happening around them, this were the same for slaves. Especially seeing how this war was being fought, and of high interest for them, they found ways to gather their information, which was through grape-vine telegraph. Also with this form of news they were even able to recieve information before some whites.

"I now recall the many late-at-night whispered discussions showed that they understood the situation, and that they kept themselves informed of the events by what was termed the "grape-vine" telegraph."

Especially seeing how this war was being fought in the best interest of the slaves, the slaves made it their dutie to gather information about the war, they wanted, and needed to know in what the direction the war was going, this were their lives at the stake.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

History Repeats Itself

Every time a new technology arises there seems to be a common pattern. A technology is created or adapted to solve a problem, but at first, the public fails to realize its potential. Then, the people behind the technology do whatever is necessary to get it accepted by the public, followed by an understanding by the public, and finally an explosion of ideas by the public on how to profit greatly from the new technology.

“Between 1847 and 1852, there was an explosion of entrepreneurial activity” Starr P.171

“As of the early1850’s, however, the telegraph industry was so fragmented that the competition on many routes prevented any firm from making a profit.” Starr P.172

Today we can make an interesting comparison between the oldest and newest technologies. In the 1850’s so many companies got involved in the business that no one was making any profit. This started the selection process where only the companies with the correct infrastructure and business sense survived, making the technology later better and stronger.

Back in the 1990’s we had the exact same scenario with our new technology the internet. At first, many failed to realize the massive potential the internet had to offer, followed by an understanding by the public. Finally, we had the same explosion of ideas on how to profit greatly from the new technology. Anybody and everybody could be a business owner. You did not need an office, inventory, employees or anything related to the “old” business system all you needed was your computer and your “.com” address.

The exact same scenario as before occurred with too many businesses offering the exact same products. Companies that had invested millions of dollars to join the information revolution had less than 100 dollars of sales per month. Eventually the same natural selection occurred and in the end, the technology was stronger and better and it will only continue to succeed at a logical pace or until a new technology arises and history repeats itself.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

News Vs. Reality!

“War is a new thing to all of us who are not in the last quarter of our century. We are learning many strange matters from our fresh experience. And besides, there are new conditions of existence which make war as it is with us very different from war as it has been.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Before the invention of railroads in the early 19th century and the emergence of the telegraph, it took men months to be able to transmit information from one part of the continent to another. In times of war, news became stories by the time they reached the mass. People did not digest the massacres and cruelties occurring in their neighboring countries as they would if it had just happened. Many of their concerns were based on the economic factor. The creation of railroads not only facilitated transportation from one place to another, but it also allowed an infrastructure of news. It was a time when newspapers were circulating containing vivid and explicit information. News became attainable, not leaving aside, that its alteration from reality was and has always been an economic factor, therefore, preceding politics. If we take in consideration the current situation of many countries, we can clearly see that regardless the means of communication, there is always another side to a story.

By no means, there is the need to go in depth and create a debate based on facts or what is not true, but there is a correlation to whatever a population might believe is true through the means of news and what in actuality the truth is. It is the reader’s responsibility to rely in different sources and conclude to what can be certain. Having access to news in a regular basis vs. having to wait months to obtain information was an evolution that not only created chaos but also gave people more power to claim justice or injustices and gave those in power, more tools to brainwash society to their advantage. At the end, war becomes the answer to justify indifferences that sooner or later make an objective, the economic factor where the lost of lives remains in the bottom of the ladder.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Zenger's Trial

“Even Zenger’s defense had not challenged the principle that words were punishable as crime if their truth could not be established and they had the “bad tendency” of encouraging disrespect and disorder. Because there were so few cases after Zenger, seditious libel law had received little further legal, philosophical, or public attention at the time of the Revolution.”—Starr P73

The Zenger trial was a remarkable preface of American’s freedom of press. “No case in America stands as a greater landmark on the road to protection for freedom of the press than the trial of a German Immigrant printer named John Peter Zenger.”—a quote from The Trial of John Peter Zenger: An Account. John Peter Zenger was an apprentice to William Bradford, the New York’s only printer in the seventeenth century. In 1733, Zenger agreed to James Alexander, the former New York Attorney General, and published a weekly newspaper called New York Weekly Journal. The Journal’s mission was: “Inclosed is also the first of a newspaper designed to be continued weekly, chiefly to expose him [Cosby] and those ridiculos flatteries with which Mr. Harison loads our other newspaper which our Governor claims and has the privilege of suffering nothing to be in but what he and Mr. Harison approve of.”

Cosby was the Governor for New York Province since 1731. He was considered as “a rogue governor”—“spiteful, greedy, jealous, quick-tempered, dull, unlettered, and haughty.” In some issues of the Journal, in addition to editorializing about the dubious actions of Cosby, it contained clear defenses of the right to publish. Cosby decided to shut down the Journal in January 1734, but was refused by the Grand Jury, calming that authorship of the allegedly libelous material could not be determined. On August 5th, 1735, the twelve New York jurors returned a verdict of “not guilty” on the charge of publishing “seditious libels.”

In 1736, Zenger published a verbatim account of the trial as A Brief Narrative of the Case and Trial of John Peter Zenger. “No nation, ancient of modern, ever lost the liberty of speaking freely, writing, or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves”, stated by Zenger.

Another person could not be neglected in the success of this case. That was Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton. Hamilton argued to the jury that there was no libel in publishing the truth. Yet despite the celebrated case, colonial governors prosecute and imprison printers for publishing unapproved views. Freedom of speech in the United States was protected by the First Amendment in 1791.


“The vital role that the press played was not merely as a vehicle of “propaganda,” as some interpretations have it. The term ‘propaganda’ suggests a one-way process in which those who initiate communication shape others’ attitudes and knowledge, but communication did not simply flow from top to bottom, from elites to masses, from center to periphery….they have become the vehicles of discussion in which the principles of government, the interest of nations, the spirit and tendency of public measures, and the public and private characters of individuals are all arraigned, tried, and decided.” –Starr P70

Propaganda is a way of transmitting conception, which is the incentive of the propagandists. In order to achieving their needs of existing and developing, they shape others attitudes by spread their ideas to the public. They aim at the public and give them “shots”. Through propaganda, the public are influenced by certain conception and become passive, and finally act as the intention of the propagandists.
The press conveys information, which should be neutral and has no bias. Press is for the public, but it dose not see the public as its intended “target”. The press and news themselves have no subjective point of views. They just contain the pure information and events, without any individual preference or political tendency. The judgement and decisions are made by the public.
Moreover, press serves as the vehicles of discussion, that is, it helps to create public opinions. Public opinions or public sphere composes an important part of the execution of democracy. It is also the voices of the public and individuals.