Friday, September 19, 2014

The Control Revolution

The Control Revolution was written by author James R. Beniger, a professor of communications and sociology at both Princeton University and the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California (USC).  He graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude in history in 1969.  He also earned his Ph.D. in sociology and statistics from the University of California, Berkeley.  He wrote The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society in 1986 in the Harvard Press.  This classic piece of literature has received numerous awards which include: the Association of American Publishers Award for the Most Outstanding Book in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, "Notable Paperback of the Year", and the International Communication Association's Fellows Book Award. 
The “Control Revolution” is a time where different control technologies were discovered and used to try to manage production in society.  It was an “abrupt discontinuity in technological advance” (Beniger 52). Control was the most frequent and important term in this text.  This is a time period that “control” adopted different meanings and interpretations.  It ranged from “absolute control” to weak/slight control.  In talking about control, the author mentions control technology a lot which means “a system that controls and monitors specific things, does this by following a simple sequence of instructions.” Two of the most important terms discussed were bureaucracy and rationalization. 
These terms were coined and became famous during the “Control Revolution”.  Bureaucracy was the most common way to control a large social system institutional areas.  In this type of government, there is a large body of non-elected officials.  I think that these bureaucracies were lead by the upper class citizens because they have the most power in a country even to this day.  Rationalization is control that is more powerful with a person of great capabilities of processing information.  These control technologies were an important theme in the article.
Also, the author spoke about the three areas that grew economically: production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. I think that The Control Revolution is actually an interesting piece of literature.  The different ways that author uses the term “control” and the origins of the words I spoke about above made me think about how not only has technology evolved but also different words in history that has evolved over the years.  This chapter of the book also helps paint a clear mental picture of how control was used to increase the economic activity of the era.  I thought it was cool that this author actually mentions the Information Society and actually dedicates a section to it in order to explain its participation in the Control Revolution. 

The Information Society is a community that produces, distributes, and uses information for economic and cultural growth.  From the Information Society, the idea of “the production distribution of knowledge” is interesting because I often time think that people produce knowledge but it isn't distributed as quickly or as efficiently as it should be.  Overall, this was an informative article and clearly the author was an expert in this field, with his numerous awards and deserving high praise.         

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