024 Inventing American Telecommunications


Historian Richard John, professor of journalism at Columbia University, talks about his book, Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications, with Peoples & Things host, Lee Vinsel. Network Nation is a history of the telegraph and telephone in the United States, and one of its key findings is that, from the very beginning of these technologies, thinking about the state, regulation, and ideas of political economy was at the heart of business strategy. John and Vinsel also talk about the nature of historical research and why it is so important to go back to primary sources.

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Lee Vinsel

Lee Vinsel is an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology and Society at Virginia Tech. He studies human life with technology, with particular focus on the relationship between government, business, and technological change. His first book, Moving Violations: Automobiles, Experts, and Regulations in the United States, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in July 2019.

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