The Production of Information Technologies, Media Markets, and Labour in the Twentieth Century

Conference, 12-14 April 2018, Hamburg, Germany


Print – both the industry and its products – has undergone dramatic change in the course of the 20th and early 21st century. Technological innovation, the transformation of old and the introduction of new media overturned century-old patterns of information production and media consumption. This process was sparked and accompanied by but also boosted competition and conflict in various fields: the scramble for markets and industrial relations, freedom of the press and intellectual property rights, typographic standards and archiving techniques, to name but a few. Change, however, held very different connotations for different professions and protagonists. The conference will look at several of these broad processes, specifying their dynamics and their impact through case studies of typographic design and technology in an era of intense technological change; the varying use and concept of images as visual information; the changing tides of sales organisation in the media industry; the moving target of information storage against the backdrop of rapidly changing availability of storage formats; and the struggles both among and between different protagonists in print, the media industry’s standard-bearer for most of the period under investigation and possibly to this day.


Thursday, 12 April

17.00: Guided tour through the museum (Sandra Schürmann)
18.00-19.00: Keynote: Monika Dommann (Zurich), Labour at the End of the Linotype

Friday, 13 April

9.00-9.15: Introduction (Karsten Uhl)

9.15-10.45: Typography (Chair: Kim C. Priemel)
Vaibhav Singh (Reading): Means of Production: Typographic Design and Technological Enterprise in Early Twentieth-Century India
Nikolaus Weichselbaumer (Mainz): Typesetting Technology as a Key Factor for the Development of Type Design and Typography in the Twentieth Century

11.15-12.45: Photos (Chair: Karsten Uhl)
Jonathan L. Dentler (Los Angeles): Printing the Electric Eye: Technological Transformation, News Markets, and the Interwar Public Sphere
Yanai Toister (Tel Aviv) Love’s Labour’s Lost. Photography Before and After Anthropocentrism

14.00-16.00: Selling Print Media (Chair: Karl Christian Führer)
Torsten Kathke (Mainz): Amazon in Print: The Bertelsmann Book Club as Purveyor of Media
Daniel Raff (Philadelphia): Bookstore Chains in America 1971-2011: How Information Technology Changed Bookselling
Sabrina Mittermeier (Munich): Targeting the Niche: Baby Boomers and the Rise of Specialty Magazines

16.30-18.00: Storage (Chair: Martina Heßler)
Matts Lindström (Stockholm): Dreams of the Minuscule: The Imaginary of Microfilm and the Production of Scientific Information
Alexandros Panagopoulos (Athens): Invisible Labour During the Digitalization of the Newspaper Archive of the Greek Parliament Library, 2004-2010

Saturday, 14 April

9.00-10.30: Industrial relations 1 (Chair: Knud Andresen)
Kim Christian Priemel (Oslo) Three Commissions and a Funeral. The British Newspaper Industry’s Economics and Politics, 1947-77
Sonja Neumann (Munich) Showdown on the Newspaper Market – How Skeleton Editions reflect the Balance of Power between the Printing Business Players

11.00-12.30: Industrial relations 2 (Chair: Knud Andresen)
Karsten Uhl (Hamburg/Darmstadt): The Old, the New, and Participation: Printing Unions’ Involvement in Technology Development, 1950s-1980s
Jesse Adams Stein (Sydney): The Last Generation of Australian Hot Metal Compositors: Are There Lessons for Engineering Pattern-Makers (and Beyond)?

12.30-13.00: Concluding remarks & discussion (Kim C. Priemel)