Back to the future. Historicizing social dreamworlds about new media

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The introduction of the Internet and new information and communication technologies in broader sections of society in the beginning of the nineties was surrounded by utopian and dystopian visions about their societal impact. Those accounts are not only media deterministic but also a-historical: the introduction of new media in the past (telegraph, radio, etc.) was also accompanied by boom and doom predictions. This article provides an interdisciplinary framework for historicizing past visions about new media. Drawing on insights from the New History and the Social Construction of Technology and the Domestication framework within sociological approaches to technology, the article argues that a historical analysis of the way new media in the past were anticipated and debated in broader parts of society forces media historians to abandon the traditional linear and teleological accounts of media development. It shall be argued that every media history must be a history of its uses. A historical study about visions surrounding the introduction of new media in the past will investigate how representations, put in their historical context, about their uses and users shape the media development. Finally, which source material and chronological framework media historians should use for this analysis will be briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching media, democray and participation.
EditorsN. Carpentier, P. Pruulman-vengerfeldt, K. Nordenstreng, M. Hartmann, P. Vihalemm, B. Cammaerts
PublisherTartu University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-9949-11-463-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameResearching media, democracy and participation

Bibliographical note

N. Carpentier,P. Pruulman-Vengerfeldt,K. Nordenstreng,M. Hartmann,P. Vihalemm,B. Cammaerts


  • media history
  • discours
  • internet
  • new media
  • social dreamworlds
  • social construction of technology
  • domestication


Dive into the research topics of 'Back to the future. Historicizing social dreamworlds about new media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this