Making the Perfect Record: From Inscription to Impression in Early Magnetic Recording

Interdisciplinary Force

Indeed, once-new gadgets such as the telegraphone emerge recursively with other cultural phenomena, including new literary genres (e.g., scientific-detective fiction), labor practices (e.g., dictation in the workplace), communication networks (e.g., telephony), consumption habits (e.g., listening to messages on wire), and initiatives in education (e.g., technical instruction in the mechanical arts). The existence of such cultural forces does not suggest they are totalizing, revolutionary, or unicausal. Instead, the implication is that—with devices like the telegraphone operating as an instrumental object across disciplines—those forces are at once abstract and concrete, simultaneously weak and strong (Star and Griesemer 1989, 393). That is, Reeve, Fankhauser, and Poulsen used the telegraphone differently in unique instances; nonetheless, shared informational needs, listening practices, memory techniques, and ideologies existed across those uses.

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