[Web4lib] Failed or transitory technologies, with an emphasis on libraries

Steve Cramer SMCRAMER smcramer at uncg.edu
Mon Dec 17 10:53:17 EST 2007

Sounds like a similar thesis in the interesting history book "Victorian 
Internet : the remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth 
century's on-line pioneers" by Tom Standage (New York : Walker and Co., 

Steve Cramer
Librarian for Accounting, Apparel, Business, & Economics
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
smcramer at uncg.edu, 336-256-0346, AIM: stevebizlib

Lyman Ross <lross at uvm.edu> 
Sent by: web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org
12/14/2007 05:15 PM

web4lib at webjunction.org

Re: [Web4lib] Failed or transitory technologies,        with an emphasis 
on libraries

If you have the time and are interested you might take a look at a 
recent book entitled The shock of the old (OUP,2007) which argues that 
it is a mistake to view technological change as a revolutionary or 
transformative force.  Instead he argues that in terms of use technology 
is often conservative and long lived.  You may not agree with his thesis 
but he has some interesting examples and knows the literature.


Dan Lester wrote:
> Hello web4lib friends,
> I'm working on a presentation tentatively called something like
> "history of library technology with an emphasis on the last 40 years".
> It will probably include Powerpoint, just to show illustrations of the
> some of the items and not to give an interminable outline or list.  :-)
> I trust I'll come up with a better title, but hope you get the idea.
> I'm looking for examples in three areas.
> 1 Failed technologies or products (lasted only a short time on the
> market or in service)
> 2. Transitory technologies or products (lasted longer, but fairly
> quickly superseded)
> 3. Lasting technologies or products
> There isn't a clear distinction or boundary on any of the three, of
> course, and we could argue where some of them go.  The examples don't
> have to be library related, as I'll also want some that put the
> library ones in historical context as well. If you have references to
> great illustrations of any of them, that would be great too.
> Some examples might be:
> Failed
>       Ultrafiche
>       Videodiscs
>       Quad stereo
>       Apple Lisa
>       Steam powered cars
>       MC/ST and MC/ST typewriters
>       Stand-alone word processors (Wang et al)
> Transitory
>       Cassette tapes
>       Microprint/card (opaques)
>       8mm filmloop cartridges
>       Punched cards
>       Gopher
>       Fax machines
>       Gas lights
>       Apple ][ series
>       Non-graphic displays on monitors
>       Vacuum tubes in electronic devices
>       Electric typewriters
> Lasting (at least so far)
>       Intergrated library systems
>       WWW
>       Ariel and similar document transmission
>       iPod
>       Librarians
>       Solid state devices
> My goal isn't to start a debate on which things go in which category
> (though wouldn't object to that, but is probably too off topic).
> Please send me suggestions to my personal email, though I'll also try
> to harvest those sent to the list.
> Something to think about when things slacken a bit with finals,
> holidays, and so forth. Any help appreciated.
> thanks, and happy holidays of whatever type you celebrate

Lyman Ross
Systems Librarian
University of Vermont

email: lross at uvm.edu
phone: (802) 656-4508

Web4lib mailing list
Web4lib at webjunction.org

More information about the Web4lib mailing list