Communications

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By Richard D. Brown

Brown the following explores America's first communications revolution--the revolution that made published items and public oratory extensively on hand and, via the steamboat, railroad and telegraph, sharply speeded up the velocity at which details travelled. He describes the daily reviews of dozens of fellows and girls, and within the technique illuminates the social dimensions of this profound, far-reaching transformation. Brown starts in Massachusetts and Virginia within the early 18th century, whilst public info was once the valuable ownership of the rich, realized, and strong, who used it to enhance political order and cultural harmony. applying diaries and letters to track how details moved via society in the course of seven generations, he explains that through the Civil struggle period, cultural cohesion had develop into a specific thing of the prior. Assisted by means of complex know-how and an increasing economic system, american citizens had created a pluralistic details market within which all different types of public communication--print, oratory, and public meetings--were competing for the eye of unfastened women and men. Knowledge is Power presents clean insights into the rules of yank pluralism and deepens our point of view at the personality of public communications within the United States.

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Additional info for Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865

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The responsibility, indeed, was reciprocal, and when news came to relatives that might be pertinent to Sewall, they would send word either orally or in writing. The commitment to a family information network endured for life, although as key members of the network in his own and the previous generation died, the size and shape of the network changed and the avidity of Sewall's participation waned. 18 Certainly all of these phenomena were at work before the 1720s. For Sewall, however, the extended family information network remained primary in the 1720s as in the 1670s.

Such ideals and customs were not necessarily popular among all of the inhabitants; these standards were prescribed by Puritan political and religious officials whose hegemony was accepted. Even though economic and political realities had forced many compromises since 1630—Baptists, for example, had been permitted to organize a church in 1665-Boston retained some of the character of its Utopian Puritan origins. Insofar as the diffusion of information was concerned, Puritanism influenced the places and occasions for public assembly as well as the boundaries of what was and was not permissible.

37 Such chance transmissions of information were not everyday occurrences, but they were common enough, especially in connec- Information and Authority in Samuel Sewall's Boston, 1676-1729 29 tion with local and provincial people and events. Being in circulation— proximity—was a crucial part of the elite information system. Sewall's stature as a public official also meant that people visited him expressly to bring news. Where personal matters were concerned, advice and assistance were commonly sought; but on public matters Sewall's own immediate action might be required.

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