Journal Title or Book Title
Technoculture: An Online Journal of Technology and Society
While Technoculture (TC) is not formally an Open Access journal, we are certainly committed to the free dissemination of knowledge. Our authors always retain full copyright Readers may always disseminate all works via link or, where appropriate, in print-friendly versions, though we do not recognize print-friendly versions as authoritative. Their use of our authors' works is governed by the author except as allowed in fair use or other legal uses of copyrighted materials. This book review can also be seen at https://tcjournal.org/vol5/evans
Media histories are valuable in an age when an increasingly high percentage of our lives are mediated through new and constantly evolving technologies. By conducting such excavations one can see the influences that guide technologies’ inception, growth, and decline as they facilitate societal changes. Typically, media histories are performed through the recovery and analysis of various documents providing support for a particular occurrence or argumentative position. Though seemingly objective, these evidentiary artifacts are shaped by the same types of sociocultural, economic, and political influences as the technologies that produce them. Through tracing a media history of this neglected genre, Lisa Gitelman’s Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents establishes documents as artifacts of epistemological import. Gitelman identifies documents via their utility, or what she calls the “know-show function.” She argues: “Documents help define and are mutually defined by the know-show function, since documenting is an epistemic practice” (p. 1). Four chapters, focusing on small-job printed blanks, typescript books, xerography, and the PDF respectively, comprise Gitelman’s account of notable milestones and ruptures in document history. This insightful book is situated within a media history landscape wherein we do not just delve into the pasts of major media like computers and televisions but also those of photocopies and receipts.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Evans, Sarah Ph.D., "Review of Gitelman, L. (2014) Paper Knowledge" (2015). Faculty Works: Digital Humanities & New Media. 8.