Archive for April 20th, 2009

John Peters at Cyberscholars event at MIT.

April 20, 2009

————-Announcement: Please Circulate Widely———————– A Harvard-MIT-Yale Cyber Scholars Working Group Special Event In conjunction with MiT 6: Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Friday, April 24, 2009 E51-315 (MIT campus) Please RSVP to Colleen Kaman at Light snacks provided Linked announcement: Whatever happened to loneliness? Social thought about communication, 1959/2009 John Durham Peters, University of Iowa A talk followed by open discussion Around 1959, social commentators looked at the media landscape and saw loneliness everywhere. According to a wide range of intellectuals, the mass media of radio, television, film, newspapers, and magazines addressed people as members of a lonely crowd. Some avant-garde thinkers–in zoology, astronomy, neurology, parapsychology, and theater–saw in the tape recorder and radio potentials for peer-to-peer messages, but most understood the effort to pull private meaning from mass media as a sort of madness. In 2009 the scene is radically different. Commentators on the media landscape see in frenetic networking the collapse of mass media and the triumph of peer-to-peer. Some long for the cold familiar comfort of existential solitude amid a world of pokes and tweets. The fashion has swung from schizophrenia to autism as the mental illness that holds the truth of our moment. By using the late 1950s as a point for defamiliarizing the present, this paper tries to find out what is new in the media landscape of our moment. John Durham Peters is F. Wendell Miller Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa and author of, among other books, Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication. The Harvard-MIT-Yale Cyberscholar Working Group is a forum for fellows and affiliates studying issues confronting the information age to discuss their ongoing research. Each session is focused on the peer review and discussion of current projects submitted by a presenter. Meeting alternatively at Harvard, MIT, Yale, the working group aims to expand the shared knowledge of young scholars by bringing together these preeminent centers of thought on issues confronting the information age. Discussion sessions are designed to facilitate advancements in the individual research of presenters and in turn encourage exposure among the participants to the multi-disciplinary features of the issues addressed by their own work. MIT Comparative Media Studies ( and C4FCM ( are co-sponsors of Cyberscholars at MIT.