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section heading icon     overview

This note considers reprography technologies such as the photocopier, VCR and mimeograph. It highlights issues such as censorship and consumer uptake. It also points to major studies.

The following pages cover -

  • typewriters
  • copiers - mimeographs, photocopiers, fax machines and other devices
  • music - the Walkman, iPod and MP3 players
  • PVRs - personal video recorder technologies (including remote service recorders), standards and the shape of viewing
  • rewards - questions about rights management technologies (ECMS or DRM), broadcast economics, taxation and compulsory royalty schemes

subsection heading icon     introduction

The net has been hailed as "the world's largest photocopier" - a device that fosters plagiarism and copyright breaches and that enables authors to share their diaries or disseminate text, graphics, video and audio across the globe.

This note discusses some precursors of the web, including technologies such as the facsimile machine and the mimeograph. It also considers contemporary devices such as the iPod and the TiVo, along with precedents such as the Walkman and the VCR.

The web is not the 'end point' of technological progression, the result of a teleological advancement towards a seamless global communications network. It is also not without precedent. As we have commented elsewhere on this site, it is arguable that earlier technologies such the telegraph and printing have been far been far more significant, despite eschatological pronouncements by enthusiasts (such as characterisation of the net as "the most transforming technological event since the capture of fire" or web 2.0 "as the most important thing since the invention of the book").

Looking at how societies have assimilated reprographic technologies in the past, including questions about regulation (for example censorship) and questions about commercialisation or culture, is of value for understanding the 'digital environment' and making sense of its future development.

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version of June 2006
© Bruce Arnold | caslon analytics