CMM16 – Week Two

The Study Guide was loads of fun this week. It was a history (albeit brief and rather one-sided) of computers and technology, starting with the abacus and going through to Microsoft and IBM. All in just a few pages!

Perhaps the most interesting part of this was the following youtube clip on the Enigma coder used during World War II

Next up was readings from the textbook. Chapters 2 and 5. Not as much fun to read! Then we had to do posts on the Discussion board answering questions.

Week 2 Questions:
“The Hegelian dialectic had three elements: the proposition (thesis); an opposite or competing proposition (antithesis); and the logical resolution of the tension between them (synthesis)” (Hirst and Harrison 2007, p 17).
This is how Hirst & Harrison describe the use of the term “dialectic” in the context of media technologies. Write a 100 word post explaining the concept of the dialectic, and use it to describe a specific moment in the history of the development of the computer. You must cite at least two academic sources in support of your argument. Write a second 100 word post in response to someone else in the course. You must engage with their argument: you might point out a different example or a logical error in their reasoning, or you might take their example and develop it further to expand on their definition of the dialectic.


Hirst and Harrison (2012, p. 16-18) describe the dialectic of communication as being the resolution of the contradictions formed between a proposition and it’s antithesis. An example of this can be found in today’s world of mediated communication.

With the advent of web 2.0, social media networks have altered the way we communicate with one another. Marx and Engels (1973, p. 47) had a glimpse of this change in the manifesto of the communist party when they postulated that the transmission vectors of communication as being ‘immensely facilitated’ by technology.

In modern society we now form online connections rather than hold conversations (Turkle 2011, p.16) and it is this core difference that amplifies the impact of technological convergence in our dialectic of communication. The intimacy of face to face conversation is quickly becoming a moment in our history as we adjust to a life online.


Hirst, M & Harrison, J 2012, Communication and new media: broadcast to narrowcast, Oxford University Press.

Marx, K, Engels, F & Fernbach, D 1973, ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party. The Revolutions of 1848’.

Turkle, S 2011, Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other, Basic Books (AZ).



As Hirst & Harrison (2012) describe, the concept of the dialectic relates to the notion that in order to move nature (or society) forward, there must be two opposing forces exerting pressure which ultimately, through logic, produce a resolution. This pattern is in perpetual repetition, which causes continual evolution.

The early stages of computer development offer clear examples of a dialectic. As most computational machinery required enormous financial backing to develop, it was military funding that sustained development. As such, during times of war (particularly World War 2), technological development was highly resourced. The antithesis of this innovation was the destruction of war. The resolution of these competing forces was the ‘rebuilding’ stage, where post-war economies flourished and further advances were made (Rothwell 1982, p. 364).


Hirst, M & Harrison, J 2012, Communication and new media: broadcast to narrowcast, Oxford University Press.

Rothwell, R 1982, ‘The role of technology in industrial change: implications for regional policy’, Regional Studies, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 361-9.

Hi J,
The moment I read your thread, I instantly recalled a song of the late 60s.

“War, huh yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing”
(, 2012)

And yet, as you rightly pointed out, war is useful for stimulating economies and inspiring inventive solutions. The contrast between the human cost and the technological advances of war forms a strong dialectic. According to Markusen (1992, p. 398-90), despite the forty years since the beginning of the Cold War, the world economy still suffers major structural damage that would have been stabilised in the event of another World War.

Income per capita varies greatly from one country to another, especially since WW2. And whilst technological advances have occurred, some countries have done this more effectively than others.This is particularly evident with Japan, who created a “development miracle” (Parente, 1994, p. 399) immediately following their loss in World War Two.

It will be interesting to see how historians look upon the recent ‘police actions’ of the Gulf War and the War on Terror in future years.


Markusen, A 1992, ‘Dismantling the cold war economy’, World Policy Journal, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 389-99. n.d., War Lyrics: Edwin Starr,, viewed 18 Sept 2012, .

Parente, SL & Prescott, EC 1994, ‘Barriers to technology adoption and development’, Journal of Political Economy, pp. 298-321.

God I hate this convergence shit.

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