Chapter 3

Technological Imperatives—losing control

In the mid- to late eighteenth century it was newspapers that sustained the American insurgency. They persuaded colonial readers of their personal stake in political protests against the English crown.1 There were, of course, other channels of communication as well—learned pamphlets, for example, and committees of various sorts, which facilitated conversations face-to-face. But newspapers were an early iteration of a communication technology with consequences. They facilitated the shared ideas and information that finally fueled the revolution. It was the combustible mix—of information, expression, and connection—that led to action, to changing the balance between leaders and followers, then ...

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