LIS 694
Discussion Questions for Chapter One of Cortada

  1. What are the salient points the author is trying to communicate here?
  2. When European settlers arrived on the North American continent that continent was already populated by nations with their own cultures, their own knowledge set, their own narratives. On page 2 Cortada describes the coming of the Europeans as:

    "What really happened was that a group of determined, literate people introduced into the wilderness of North America their Old World culture which included the use of written and published information."

    In talking about the U.S. postal system on page 5 Cortada describes it as "the first American information infrastructure."
    Keeping in mind the discussion by Castells of the bias toward textual communication (as opposed to oral, for example), is there a subtext here? If so, how would you describe it?
  3. On pages 6-7 the author gives a definition of "information." How do you feel about that definition? What would you add (or delete)?
  4. On page 14 the author points to an expansion of questions asked during the census as part of America's "exuberance regarding information." What reasons would you give for a government wanting to know more about the populace? Has that information ever been abused in American history?
  5. On page 16 the author states that by the 1960s over 95% of the U.S. populace had telephones. Who would be likely to be in that remaining 5%? Stop and think about the consequences of not having a telephone. What would those consequences be?
  6. On page 19 the author cites Dr. Richard Brown as saying that "uninformed citizens are dangerous and expensive" and thus compulsory education laws are justified. Would you agree? How are uninformed citizens dangerous and expensive? Do the recent events regarding the state budget here in Hawai`i reflect that view? State your reasons one way or the other.