New Issue: Information & Culture: A Journal of History

Current Issue: Volume 52 Issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2017)

Paper Dancers: Art as Information in Twentieth-Century America
Whitney E. Laemmli

Around 1940, a New York City organization known as the Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) began a decades-long effort to promote a system known as “Labanotation.” Designed to capture the ephemeral, three-dimentional complexity of dance on the flat surface of paper, the DNB believed that Labanotation held the key to modernizing the art form. Focusing on the period between 1940 and 1975, this article catalogues the Dance Notation Bureau’s efforts to make dance both “literate” and “Scientific” and explores how these efforts contributed to broader transformations in the definitions of creativity, preservation, authorship and dance itself.

A Cost-Saving Machine: Computing at the German Allianz Insurance Company
Corinna Schlombs

This article provides a close study of information processing at Allianz, a West German insurance company, in the two decades following World War II. It contributes an international perspective to the history of information by analyzing corporate information technology decisions outside the United States and by tracing exchanges about information technology between insurance managers in the United States and Germany. The article argues that Allianz managers, claiming that electronic information processing would reduce office operating costs, meticulously sought to document these savings to legitimate their computer acquisition in an otherwise adverse economic and political climate.

A History of Information in the United States since 1870
James W. Cortada

This article summarizes the findings of a book-length study of how Americans have used information since the 1700s, with a primary emphasis on the post-1870 period. The author argues that residents of North America were extensive users of information in their work and in their public and private lives. Reasons are offered for that dependence on information: high levels of literacy, economic prosperity, open political system, and considerable personal freedom to do as one wanted. The article describes findings on information use in the private sector, public sector, and in private life, including the American experience using the Internet.

Using Historical Methods to Explore the Contribution of Information Technology to Regional Development in New Zealand
Janet Toland and Pak Yoong

This article examines the role that information and communication technologies (ICTs) play in regional development and their relationship with factors such as regional learning, innovation, culture, and internal and external regional information networks. Historical methods are used to build up a picture of significant changes that have taken place within two contrasting regions of New Zealand between 1985 and 2005. The interdependent relationships between the development of hard ICT-based networks and regional social networks are explored.

The Octagonal Pavilion Library of Macao: A Study in Uniqueness
Jingzhen Xie and Laura Reilly

Privately owned by the Macao Chamber of Commerce, the Octagonal Pavilion Library was the first free Chinese library service as well as the most used Chinese public library in Macao from its establishment in 1948 until the late twentieth century. With a total surface area of 1,130 square feet, it is possibly the smallest library in the world. Despite its diminutive size, its educational and cultural impact on the community make it unique. Its relationship to “the foreign-Chinese divide,” to Ho Yin (Macao’s most important twentieth-century historical figure), and to other libraries in Macao are of particular interest. Its architecture, classification system (centered on the Three People’s Principles), and non-technical operations in the current technical environment also make it a meaningful library service case study.

Find the current issue on Project MUSE.

Purchase this issue at the University of Texas Press.

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