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Cover Handbook Media and Communication Economics

The Handbook of Media and Communication Economics (Krone/Pellegrini) is growing!

Freshly inserted is the paper »Media Innovations and Media Revolutions. From Gutenberg to Berners Lee« .

The article deals with the resource technology from the perspective of innovation and revolution. It should be noted that there is no very well-founded domain-specific innovation research. Most of the contributions are of a very small-scale nature, scattered and difficult to find in different publication organs; the few exceptions identified are the larger works by Dogruel and Schüller. An unmanageable number of contributions, however, deal with technology and the changes and innovations of this resource in the form of “revolutionary histories”; specifically, media revolutions, communication revolutions, or digital revolutions are discussed. The now louder criticism of these sometimes under-complex, theory-poor, and often technology-deterministic narratives along supposed fractures is taken as an opportunity not to tell a from-Gutenberg-to-Berners-Lee story. Instead, selected ways of categorizing techniques from different disciplines are presented. They can help to raise the discussion of technology in and for the media industry to a higher level of abstraction.

»Media Innovations and Media Revolutions: From Gutenberg to Berners Lee.« The title of this chapter implies that another of the numerous „rupture histories“ is elaborated, which presents contemporary novel techniques, such as printing with movable type or electronic hypertext documents, in a phenomenological-descriptive way and attempts to identify consequences for the system of media communication from what is (historiographically) observable. For this essay, a different approach was chosen, since current research currents in media and communication theory express clear criticism of approaches emphasizing caesura and epochs and call for a break with previous historical narratives and periodizations as well as a stronger theoretical reference.

Section 2 of the article begins by explaining the central concepts of engineering and technology, innovation and revolutions. In section 3, the state of the scientific discussion of domain-specific innovation and revolution research is briefly reviewed and the aforementioned criticism of the fracture histories is presented. In section 4, selected theoretical approaches from economics (sections 4.1 and 4.4), from sociology (section 4.2) and from information technology in connection with sign theory (section 4.3) for the differentiation of techniques as a resource in the system of media communication are presented and illustrated by means of domain-specific examples. They can be used to classify or interpret empirical observations. Section 5 contains the concluding remarks.

Keywords: Innovation – Media revolution – Communications revolution – Digital revolution – Techniques by degree of activity – Techniques by life cycle – Techniques by range of use – Digital and analog information representation

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg