ICT Revolutions: Continuities and Changes


  • The general purpose of this course is to provide students with a corpus of knowledge, which will enable them to understand and reflect critically about the structuring role of “technological revolutions” of communication and information in cultural, scientific and social change;
  • To Apply knowledge of the past to merging problems in the digital present.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Maria Oliveira Carneiro


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 36

Teaching language



It has not


  • Asia Briggs & Peter Burke (2009). A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. (Cambridge: UK: Polity Press).
  • Elena G. Popkova; Bruno S. Sergi, eds. (2019). The 21st Century from the Positions of Modern Science: Intellectual, Digital and Innovative Aspects (New York: Springer).
  • Elizabeth Eisenstein (1980). The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1962), The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: Toronto University Press)
  • Jeremy M. Norman ed. (2005). From Guttenberg to the Internet:  A Sourcebook on the History of Information Technology (Novato: historyofscience.com)

Teaching method

Teaching methods are diversified and include:

  • exposés;
  • discussion, debate and critical analysis of texts, documents and multimedia sources;
  • research on and systematization of scientific and disciplinary bibliography.

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

This course discusses the idea of technological revolution, by comparing “revolutions” in  information and communication technologies, from the invention of the printing presto the internet, in order to understand continuities and change between the past and the present, and in this way problematize the notion of “digital revolution” (or third industrial revolution). Power relations in digital society will be object of analysis and discussed the possibility of steering technological changes in this domain. The following topics will be addressed:  

The circulation of knowledge jn the pre-industrial period

  • The press and its technical evolution; the dissemination of knowledge and the alteration in the long run between space and discourse;
  •  The social and political effects until the 18th century;
  • The creation of a tradition of information flows;
  •  Means and styles of knowledge transmission and communication through the printed word and images: newspapers, scientific periodicals, books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries etc. in the 18th century;

    Historical analysis of the digital society and IMT

    • Characterization of the industrial revolutions
    • Evolution of IMT
    • Structural changes after World War II

    Causality in the relations between society and IMT

    • IMT as a key factor in the generation of social effects?
    • Social construction of IMT: the idiom of co-construction between society and technology
    • Characterization of IMT as sociotechnical systems

    Processes of technological development in IMT

    • Opening the “black-box” of IMT: identifying the inputs of designers/engineers in the uses of technology
    • Users in technological construction: (1) domestication of IMT, (2) agents in technological change, (3) resistance to new technologies
    • Criticism to the emphasis in the “new” in technological change

    Social consequences of IMT

    • Generation of new social/working relationships
    • (Des)continuities in the digital revolution in comparison with previous technological revolutions
    • Material continuities (the fallacy of a zero-emission digital society)


Programs where the course is taught: