Home > Bletchley Park, Cambridge, media archaeology, media art > From Turing to Abbey Road, Kentish Radar Stations to Bletchley Park

From Turing to Abbey Road, Kentish Radar Stations to Bletchley Park

I am writing a chapter for the Routledge Companion to British Media History. It’s on media archaeology, and I try to offer some insights to how we can decipher British media history through contemporary media arts. This is what I call a minor perspective to media history of Britain – often such a glorified master narrative.

This is just a brief glimpse to the beginning of the chapter. The book should be out in 2014.


Media Archaeology: From Turing to Abbey Road, Kentish Radar Stations to Bletchley Park

British media history has many great stories to tell. It has been one of the biggest inspirations for a range of accounts and for scholars that have tried to decipher the main trends of the media of modernity; from the nineteenth century establishment of standardized mail to the twentieth century Britain of the BBC that, for instance, for this author became a central symbol when he turned on the television in 1980s Finland. BBC content traveled across national boundaries, both in the structural form it provided for public broadcasting as well as through Bergerac and the FA Cup Finals over the years. British exports from television to microcomputing continued, and have established such a status that writing Britain into media history is rather redundant. It is already there, and always was there; even before actual media technologies became subsumed into the consolidated consensus about media as mass media emerged. Indeed, Britain was already there with its investment in transatlantic cables as well as pioneering scientific inquiries, in electricity and electromagnetism, prehistories of computing from Babbage to Turing and so forth. Early on, British media history was already transnational, like the transatlantic cables and telegraph clicks. It is irreducible to a simple national story, and more like something that presents an interesting case for consideration in relation to both the master narratives and the minor themes of media history.

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  1. September 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Isn’t that an effect of Empire? And couldn’t a similar story be told for France? (Chappe telegraph) It would be interesting to contrast that with other Empires (Spain, China) who produced less interesting media innovations (although the well-organized archives of the Inquisition were extremely innovative in their time).

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