Panel: Revolution of the Public Sphere
This paper asks why, given the general agreement that the periodisation of the history of technology as a series of revolutionary ruptures is unsustainable, many respectable sources refer to our present condition as revolutionary? The idea that technology shapes culture in such dominating ways that we can use terms such as the stone age, iron age, bronze age, is now so discredited that it is surprising that in quite sophisticated contexts we still read of the digital age and the electronic revolution. History the reconstructive process, and history the sets of realities which took place, are now so self consciously distinct that the idea of a revolutionary moment after which nothing is the same again is generally understood to reflect a selective memory rather than any recognisable condition in culture.
So what does it mean when scholars and commentators claim that we are undergoing a revolution? This paper opens that question, not in terms of the meaning of the reconstructive processes that insist upon revolution, but the technical realities of our time. It concludes that the very technology which has alerted us to the unreliability of history has also endowed us with revolutionary ways of remembering using digital storage.
- Michael Punt (UK), University of Wales College, Newport, Wales.