Technologies of Freedom

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Harvard University Press, 1983 - Political Science - 299 pages
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Pool surveys the legal history of the different modes of communication--print, carrier and broadcasting -- and shows how the constitutional tradition of a free press and free speech was defined over the past 200 years. Discusses how technological factors have shaped different legislative and judicial approaches to print, mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, and television, involving the government more deeply in regulation and resulting in censorship, prior restraint and licensing banned under the First Amendment. Also covers cable TV, electronic publishing, memory banks and computer networks and their mixed effect on free speech, and shows that technological change need not result in restrictive government regulation. Concludes with measures to ensure the preservation of freedom. ISBN 0-674-87233-9 (pbk.) : $8.95.

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User Review  - keylawk - LibraryThing

Pool examines the impact of communications technology on civil rights and the rights protected by the First Amendment. He argues that restrictive government regulation is not inevitable. Briefs many court cases, and supplies a detailed Index. Read full review

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This technological tour de force is simply breathtaking in its polemical power and predictive capabilities. Reading this book more than 20 years after it was published, one comes to believe that Pool must have possessed a crystal ball or had a Nostradamus-like ability to foresee the future.
For example, long before anyone else had envisioned what we now refer to as "cyberspace," Pool was describing it in this book. "Networked computers will be the printing presses of the twenty-first century," he argued in his remarkably prescient chapter on electronic publishing. "Soon most published information will disseminated electronically." Few probably believed him in 1983, but no one doubts him now. Meanwhile, he did all this while also providing a passionate defense of technological freedom and freedom of speech in the electronic age. If you care about those things, read this book. It is a masterpiece.


A Shadow Darkens
Printing and the Evolution of a Free Press
Electronics Takes Command
The First Amendment and Print Media
Broadcasting and the First Amendment
Cable Television and the End of Scarcity

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