tv Media Technology 20th Century Politics CSPAN May 20, 2020 10:56am-12:31pm EDT
tonight on american history tv, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern, historian and tour guide garret peck discusses prohibitions rise as well as fall 13 years later with the repeal of the 18th amendment. this year marks 1900th anniversathe 100th anniversary of the start of prohibition. watch on c-span3. up next on american history tv, historians discuss the effect of media and technology on politics. topics include silicon valley, artificial intelligence and cable television. this is about 90 minutes from purdue university. >> so good morning and welcome to the media technology and state panel. this is part of a larger two day session called "remaking american political history" where we're all talking about history and how it's going to be
taught and talked about and consumed over the years. this conference is sponsored by the department of history here at purdue university. it is organized by katie brunell. thank you. we're thankful to all of them to get into this and discuss this whole issue of how history is going to be taught in the future. we're new in the brian lamb school of communication here and our goal is to help professors from across the country use the c-span archives which is now over 250,000 hours of american political history. in their classrooms and in their research. we do other things. but that's what we're concentrating on at this
conference. we'll be interested in following you as we reach out to specifically history professors across the country. who are interested in using the c-span archives in the classrooms and in research. we have three excellent panelists that all have different areas of interest under this topic. they're going to speak for five to seven minutes and then take a lot of q&a. we're going to start with margaret owe naira. so there is her introduction. you can read it. i don't need to read it for you. i need to do what i was taught to do which is in the brian lahm school of questioning is ask the questions that are not on there. margaret, where do you grow up? >> i grew up in little rock, arkansas. >> how did you make the move from little rock, arkansas, to -- where did you go to school? >> northwestern university.
>> to northwestern? >> yes. >> how did do you that? >> i wanted to go to a big city. i wanted to be somewhere other than the south. and i got in. >> how did you choose history? >> you know, my high school is little rock central high school. and i was in my senior year was the 30th anniversary, the fall of 1987. 13th anniversary of the crisis at central high. little rock nine returned. and it was a real -- the time i was in high school is a time that we were all being, you know, being made very aware of that history where at least certainly within the walls of the high school were reckoning with that history. by that point it had become a majority/minority very, very socioeconomically diverse high school. understanding my own personal connection to a place that played a significant role in the
american civil rights story is one of the reasons i did this. >> last bio question, what professor or what teacher no matter whether it was grade school, high school, university level made the most difference in your career? >> my graduate adviser, michael katz from the university of pennsylvania. >> because we are the c-span archives, i was able to and i was tickled to find that all three of our panelists are in the c-span archives. this is a pranl where c-span does called lectures in history. they look for professors teaching historical issues in the classrooms and actually bring the cameras into the classrooms and get a class. >> 1960s is a time, yes, when
the modern left, liberal left comes together and you have strong leftist movements. both within and outside formal politics, a push towards more leftist solutions. but it is also the moment when the modern right is coming together. there are young people in college campuses and high schools and post collegiate that have very different ideas about what america is and what it should be. you have a book that is now history now. it is for some of us. i turn it to you. >> all right. well, thank you so much, connie. thank you, katie for organizing this and meredith, just great to be on this panel with all of you and to be speaking to the people in the room and the people who will be watching this on c-span.
so i set to writing my most recent book "the code" and approached it when i started about five years ago. as a political history of silicon valley. and it morphed into something broader, but the political sign was there. the course of writing evolution of the high technology, computer and hardware industries in california and west coast, but more broadly from the 1940s to present, when you get to the last 25 years, it becomes a story about media. so i am intensely interested in as scholars say putting the state back into the story of silicon valley, a place that has for quite awhile has been a tech no libertarian paradise in which politics and government was something to be avoided, that when government got involved,
they messed things up, and funnily enough, politicians of both parties held up as a beautiful example of american free enterprise and entrepreneurialism in action. but there's actually a very critical government story, political story that runs throughout. there also is a media story, information dissemination story. i think going to something we see that's manifesting now, you have of course very large technology companies, like alphabet and google and facebook that are media platforms through much so much information flows, yet they're companies that do not think of themselves as media companies, not only sort of a verb, say they're not in the business of media as if they were newspapers, but also their self conception truly is one of being against traditional media, being something that media is like government something to be an old style institution. when we look at this
historically, we not only see how the culture of silicon valley in particular business culture that was based on growing fast at all costs, elbowing competitors out of the way, bringing products to market quickly, so the growth mindset of silicon valley is something that is animating how these very large companies are working today, and also why it is challenging to change the business model to something that isn't about creating ever more powerful algorithms that can scrape information. also, a community that grew that i referred to in my book as a gallon app goes, a distinctive ecosystem that grew up in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, connected to centers of finance and government on the east coast, notably through flow of
money through the industrial complex, why silicon valley came to be, itself. but it was isolated enough geographically and in terms of people paying attention. if you read a story in "the washington post" or "the new york times" that referred to silicon valley anytime before 1980, first of all the term comes up rarely. when it does, it is in silicon valley. and there were -- even when you had national news coverage and news magazines like fortune, profiling entrepreneurs in silicon valley, it is as if this was a strange, beautiful far away species, a very different type. if we look back to the way in which entrepreneurs like steve jobs, bill gates were presented to the world when they first came to prominence, their companies first came to prominence, this was as shaggy haired iconic -- very different
and disruption from the larger narrative of american capitalism. one thing we discover looking back that there is a distinctive business culture that grows in the technology industry, a technology industry that's come in modern age to have an immense influence on politics and government and on media. it is very distinctive, yet it is deeply connected to old economy institutions, whether they be national government or state government or local governments, old money. where did money for the technology revolution come from, where were funds that flowed into the initial venture funds that started these iconic entrepreneurial companies and semiconductors and personal computing and on and on. it was the rockefellers, whitneys, where the money was. wall street, wall street banks. most establishment of establishment is underneath.
and these companies, even ones like apple, for example, which presented itself in the beginning, a counter cultural dream of a company, place that thinks different. why did apple break apart from the pack of other personal computer makers in the late '70s? they had a beautiful product. and they also had a single ar, two steves, steve wozniak who designed a beautiful, powerful elegant mother board inside the computer, but steve jobs who could tell a good story and understood how to present this device to the world. they also had management expertise coming from other companies that were much more traditional, well established, that kind of took two guys in a garage, turned it into a real operation. you see this again and again and again. so recognizing, a, that this whole ecosystem has a history, that it is single lar and distinctive, a product of the last 75 years of political history and social history is
critical to understanding and grappling with the i am men's tee of the influence today. >> meredith broussard is the next speaker. meredith is from new york university and she has a book called artificial unintelligence. how computers misunderstand the world. and i'm going to put up your biography but ask you questions like where did you grow up. >> i grew up in a small quaker town outside philadelphia. >> how did you make it from philadelphia to nyu? >> well, i was at penn before this, at temple before this -- sorry? >> microphone. >> before i was at nyu, i was
professor at temple and professor at the university of pennsylvania, and i study data journalism. i practice data journalism. it is a practice of finding stories, numbers, and using numbers to tell stories. and new york is really the epicenter now of people who are working on data journalism and people that are working on major issues around ethics in technology. especially ethics in artificial intelligence which is my other specialty. >> so what teacher moved your life? >> one of the stories i tell in the book is about when i was in high school. i was in an engineering program
for kids. >> all right. go ahead. >> do we need to start over? >> absolutely not. i will ask you what teacher changed your life. >> one of the really important educational experiences i had in learning to use technology happened when i was in high school. i was in an engineering program for kids. we would get -- take them once a month to the rca plant in this small town where i grew up. it was rumored they were building nuclear weapons there, but actually what i did was i went on this little bus to this engineering program and they gave us spare computer parts and said here, build a computer. so i actually built my own first computer. and it was great. and so i learned from that that i had the power to create
technology. also that there are a lot of wasted spare parts laying around at tech companies that seemed like useful information. and i learned about power. i learned that i had the power to build things. i learned that as margaret said, there's a lot of economic power behind building technology. so that was important knowledge that took me into becoming a data journalist. >> looking for you in cspan archives, found you at the yelp headquarters in washington, d.c., didn't know they had one, much less in washington, d.c. >> technology will not save us from every social problem, so let's take homelessness, for example. the fix for homelessness is not making an app to connect people with services better. the fix for homelessness is giving people homes.
so we need to think about pushing back against tech no chauvinism, using the right tool for the task. sometimes that tool is a computer, and sometimes it's not. >> meredith broussard. thank you. >> so i want to talk a little bit today about understanding artificial intelligence. so my book "artificial unintelligence" is about the inner workings and outer limits of technology. i started writing it because i was having a really hard time with people understanding what the heck i was doing in my work. so i build artificial intelligence systems for investigative reporting. i would say this, people would say you mean it is like a robot reporter? and i would say no. and they would say so it is like a machine that spits out story ideas? and i would say no. so i realize that if i wanted
anybody to understand what the heck i was talking about, what i was working on, there needed to be more basic understanding of artificial intelligence in the world. so i started researching the book. and i realize that we don't often get good definitions of ai. we talk about ai a lot, but there's kind of a fog that desends when we try to talk precisely about it, there's a lot of confusion. often when you have a conversation between two people about ai, one person is actually talking about the hollywood stuff with the killer robots, and, you know, a computer that's going to take over the world,
and the other person is talking about computational statistics. all right. so it is really important if we're going to have policy discussions about artificial intelligence and role of technology and society that we're all talking about exactly the same thing. so one of the things that i do in the book is i give a concise definition of artificial intelligence and i show readers exactly what it looks like when somebody does ai, specifically i look at machine learning which is a form of artificial intelligence. so artificial intelligence is a sub discipline of computer science, same way that algebra is a sub discipline of mathematics. and inside the field of artificial intelligence, there are a lot of sub fields, machine learning, expert systems, natural language processing, natural language generation, but the interesting thing happened where machine learning has become the most popular sub field of artificial intelligence, and so this linguist particular slippage happened. when people say i am using ai for business, what they mean is i am using machine learning for
business. but the two terms have become conflated. it is important to keep this distinction in mind. then another point of confusion is that machine learning like artificial intelligence sounds like there's a little brain inside the computer. so i was once at a kind of science fair for grown ups, doing a demo of an ai system i built, and this undergraduate said you built an ai system? i said yes. is it real? i said yes. i was kind of confused. then he starts looking under the table, like there's something hiding under the computer. >> so i realize. the real artificial intelligence and machine learning is not actually about sent yens in the computer. what machine learning is it is computational statistics on steroids. it is amazing that it works well
most of the time. math cannot 'til us everything. prediction can tell us likelihood but can't tell us truth. hollywood ideas about artificial intelligence colors our beliefs. every student who comes in the classroom and starts thinking about technology and history is simultaneously thinking about hollywood and thinking about hollywood and artificial intelligence. researchers call it general artificial intelligence. and that is the sing lart, that's the robe ots that take over the world and it is totally imaginary. real artificial intelligence, what we have, is called narrow ai. machine learning, even though it starts with that, it is just
people have been using confusion about technology as a gate keeping method. to keep certain kinds of people out of the profession. when you really trace it back, all our ideas about technology and society today come from a very small and home homogenous group of people, mostly ivy league educated white male mathematicians. there's nothing wrong with being a white ivy league male mathematician. some of my white friends are white male mathematicians. people embed their biases in technology. for example, if you look at the way that we don't have women and people of color represented at the upper echelons in silicon
valley, that is a -- we can draw direct connection to the fact that women and people of color are not represented in the upper echelons of mathematics. so at the harvard math department, there are two senior professors that are women. in 2019, there are two. and you know when they started? 2018. all right. so there are structural forces at work inside technology fields that are extremely important. but people in technology fields, people in mathematics and physics don't think structural forces are important. they think that what matters is the math. they think that solving
mathematical problems, solving technological problems is so superior to these pesky social problems that they get a pass. so this is the root of an idea that i call tech no chauvinism which we saw in the earlier clip. it is superior to other solutions, that using a computer is a superior technology which is really about saying that math is superior and is really about a kind of bias. all right. so what i would argue is again, let's think about using the right tool for the task. sometimes the right tool for the task is a computer. other times it is something simple like a book in the hands of a child sitting on a parent's lap. one is not better than the other. it is simply what's appropriate.
we can also think about the environmental cost of our rush to use ai to replace existing systems, and we can say what is behind the rush to use ai. is it tech knnochauvinism, is it desire to make vast amounts of money? and is that actually giving us the world we want. we can also look at the way the ai systems function, which is that they replicate the world as it is. the way you built an ai system, you take data, build a machine learning model that is a mathematical model of what's happening inside this data, then use that model to predict values, make decisions about future data. the problem is that this model has no sent yens, has no soul, and it represently indicates
what already exists. if you think the world is already pretty great, then yeah. you're going to want to replicate it exactly. but i would argue that the world includes sexism. the world includes racism. the world includes generations of biased decisions about who gets a mortgage. the world includes in the u.s. a vast amount of residential segregation. so for using ai systems to decide who gets a mortgage to buy a house, then we're actually replicating generations of inequality. we need to think about these ai systems. those systems get us to the world as it should be. >> thank you very much.
so now we go to katie brownell from purdue university. history professor. katie, is republic of entertainment the title of the book? >> no, it is a title i came up with for a grant application. i do not like it. so any ideas, let me know. >> all right. you can read on the screen katie's bio. tell me a little about where you're from. >> originally from michigan. went to university of michigan and then did my graduate work at boston university. >> how old were you when you knew you wanted to study history as a profession. >> it was my freshman year at university of michigan. i went in to study business. i thought that would get me a job. i took a history class with matt lassiter. first day of that class completely opened my eyes, my jaw was dropped after that lecture. i decided i wanted to learn more about history. by the end of the year i wanted
to become a historian. >> your first book was "showbiz politics." what was that about? >> looks at the role of entertainment in american politics, leading up to ronald reagan. how our political culture shifted to becoming a celebrity and what i call showbiz politics, a core component of how politicians gained power and credibility. >> that's a great transition into the clip we chose for you. this is from an interview that cspan did at the organization of american historians, is that right? >> sounds right. >> that's a compelling speech, you have nixon's handwriting on it. he says reagan appeals to the heart. we appeal to the minds. are we missing something by not invoking reagan strategy. he had a team of television producers, roger ales, they all agree what went wrong in 1960 is that he didn't use media effectively, he turned himself into a celebrity the way kennedy had.
he completely revamped his media strategy, made television central, and followed what kennedy did. and followed what reagan did. and this is really significant. at the end of the day, he believed and people he surrounded himself believed that the difference between nixon the loser and nixon the winner is what embraced that showbiz politics style. >> take that into your next project on the cable television industry. >> excellent. thank you. so i am honored to be on this panel by two people whose work i admire so much, especially because they have both completed their work and i'm drawing on it for my own work. it is still very much a plan in
progress. you think about the larger book narrative that looks at the political history of cable television. and it really builds off my first book because it starts with nixon and this president who believed communications mattered and communications policy mattered as well. and the book, the core question is what is the relationship between media, technology, and the state. and that's something i have been thinking about as i'm looking over ways in which cable television dramatically changes over the past half century. for the cable industry, politics were deeply intertwined with all aspects of business. political battles, whether they played out at the local or state level with national elected officials or with fcc regulators are at the core of the industry's history. and these political debates
propelled varied transformations, and the idea of what cable television was and how it could actually function because for the first two decades that cable television existed, it emerged with the advent of broadcast television. and it was simply a way to extend the reach of broadcast television originally. if there was a trouble in terms of reception due to terrain or distance, cable could provide broadcast, amplify the reach of broadcast. then during the 1960s and 1970s, cable became seen as a new technology that could be an alternative form of how tv could function in society, that could have very specialized programming that would empower viewers to have more control over what they were watching and to quote, unquote vote with
their remote control. the industry recognized that their business was tied to what cable television meant. this is especially important, they were not part of the decisions being made about how their business should function. they were firmly, cable operators, were firmly on the outside of the political and media establishment during the 1950s and 1960s. and this meant that broadcasters who were part of the political establishment and had relationships with regulators and congressmen, they limited what was possible for cable to function as a business. there's a really powerful clip of bill daniels, cable pioneer, available through cable center's oral history. done in 1990. after the industry had expanded very rapidly during the 1980s,
and he lists all of the steep opposition that table television once faced in the '50s and '60s, and he rattles off the quote list of our enemies when we first started, and he slowly starts counting on his fingers, abc, nbc, cbs, telephone company owners, movie producers, local tv stations, city council, state governments, lawyers, lobbyists, and added a challenge came from congressional representatives who, quote, didn't like us because their broadcast buddies at home and whom they were depending to get elected didn't like us. i think this really captures the environment of cable television in the 1950s and 1960s because it really did suffer at the hands of a regulatory regime that gave tremendous social, economic, power to the broadcasting industry.
there's a close collaboration between broadcasters and congressional leaders, presidential administrations and the fcc that created a favorable regulatory framework that benefitted congressmen and presidents that were eager to be in the eye of their constituents on local or national news. so they benefitted from this. and the broadcasting industry also benefitted from this arrangement, they experienced very little competition in exchange for foregrounding the official voices from government. they underpinned this arrangement that allowed for corporate monopoly to dominate for two decades, even longer. what is essential, politicians believed they needed broadcasters to get elected. nixon is key here. 1950s and 1960s are a moment in
which politicians are grappling with the age of television. and they're hiring consultants who are telling them that you need to go on tv, you need to have advertisements, you need to be part of the news. so they believe that broadcasters have a lot of political power and that they have to have favorable relationships with them. culturally, the regulatory model depended on the idea of objectivity. a trust that the public had in big institutions. so network news was primarily seen as objective source of information that gave out the official line. think of walter cronkite and that's the way it is. overwhelmingly relying on government sources to shape their presentation of the news. intellectually, another key component that broadcasters shaped research how television functioned. so all of the studies that
support the broadcasting model with these three corporate networks, this was in the best interest of the country, they were done by research departments of the networks. again, they were able to shape the intellectual framework as well. so during this time again, 1950s and 1960s, fcc and congress created strict regulations that ensured cable couldn't compete, limited the programming that cable could use and offer its subscribers, and basically made it the only way cable could function is if it extended the signals of the broadcasting industry. captioning performed by vitac captioning performed by vitac >> -- the polling place was in the center of the building, but to get to that polling place, to get into the center of the building, you had to pass by two tables, one was staffed by a republican, one by democratic operatives, and they were the
ones who gave you your ballot, the ballots were printed by parties, there was no official ballot, and the operatives who worked for the republican party at that polling place happened to also work for a man named thomas kingsford who owned the kingsford mill, you might use kingsford starch in your cooking or to keep your clothes stamped, still a large company today, and it was widely known that as the kingsford employees, as the many who worked for kingsford walked into the building the republican operatives would hand them their tickets and remind them that they were expected to vote the way that kingsford wanted them to. and sow want sow wanted to do something to challenge the institutional structures that
gave network television so much power much he ultimately empowered many white house staffers who worked for hum im pursue a revolutionary approach to television that would allow cable television to be a competitor to broadcasting. he created the office of telecommunications policy and existed for only eight years. but this was an incredibly influential office. it started to pierce holes in some of the reigning assumptions about television. notably it capitalized on the growing critique of objectivity manifests on the left and right in the early 1970s. and it encouraged new research about the economics of cable television and whether or not it can can flourish as a new type of business. that ultimately dismantled the economic justifications of the broadcast monopoly. in the aftermath of nixon's
presidency, congress continued to debate appear take seriously some of the policies that originated in the nixon white house. and the newly elected post-watergate reformers, they took away the emphasis on attack -- the waging war against broadcasters nixon used but took seriously the idea that he -- his office of telecommunications put forward about the need for diversity and comprehensive television programming that could benefit all aspects of -- of civic engagement and government. the televised watergate hearings, i see as a really important moment, because it elevated the prestige of the legislative branch and its members. and it taught congress if they were the stars of the show that they could gain in power and
shift of the power back to the legislative branch. and so in the aftermath congress starts debating can we integrate television coverage as a way to bring -- restore more power to what they were doing, more visibility, more faith in what they were doing? they were looking for television? how do we have more of a -- more attention, more cameras focused on what we are doing? the problem is network news only had half an hour, maybe an hour they wanted to dedicate to public affairs. you needed a different type of television in order for in work. and the cable industry -- that's where they were taking advantage of some of the political shifts and new ideas. and they proposed a solution. one that would benefit them and would benefit congress. and this is something that cspan founder brian lamm argued in the oral history when he recounts
how he sold the idea of cspan to cover what congress was doing to quote unquote turn the lights on congress. he said he told people in the cable industry that only by becoming a player in the news could cspan challenge the authority and power that abc, cbs and nbc ultimately had. and he was right. cspan launched in 1979. and over the next decade politicians debated how cable should be used, not if it should be used. and the politicians that once dismissed the industry because their broadcasting buddies didn't like us eventually saw cable television as a tool for political advancement. and they forged relationships with the industry that were at times collaborative and at times very contentious but they were
always very consequential. and the process of political leaders are becoming very eager to manipulate the cable dial. they -- the style of government and how they were communicating and engaging with their constituents became transformed by the core ideas of a market populous, niche marketing and entertainment that made cable powerful and popular. since the 1960s, the financial success of the cable industry depended on the industry's ability to defend define and distinguish cable television as a new technology and a new form of television. and it really reshaped the way people thought about media and the way that media functioned in american political life. so by 1990s, the conquered list of enemies that bill daniels outlined -- by
conquering all the enemies, forging relationships and becoming a power player itself, american society and the medium structures on which it depended were fundamentally transformed. the terrain had shifted. but -- and this is one of the key argument that is i really want to bring out in the book, that in the process of shifting that terrain, it's not just that politicians came to rely on cable television more or consumers came to rely on cable television more to interact with politicians, but through that process, politics began to look more like the programs that were actually on the dial. >> thank you. >> thanks very much katie. thanks to all three of you that's great. [ applause ] >> we're going to open up. -- god i was just getting ready to say we are opening up the phone lines. it's all automatic. you just grab we're opening up
are for q and a in just a minute or two and if you would let them know and they'll get a microphone to you so we can get your questions on. as they do that, let me ask each of you, since this is a panel about media, technology and the state tell me in each of your areas where you think the state let people down. so where in that history, margaret o'meara did the state let the american people down in silicon valley and that history? >> well, i think there was a critical moment in the early 1990s when the internet which had been around since 1969 as a product of the defense department used by government employees and by researchers exclusively up until the early 90s -- it's becoming commercialized. and the commercialization of the internet involves a set of decisions and regulatory decisions. and there is a really
interesting -- it's the moment when silicon valley, or at least the generation of silicon valley entrepreneurs turned to/millionaires, turned political activists start making kind of becoming a presence in washington. and it's the measurement -- and that is partially because bill clinton who is elected in 1992 works very hard starting from before he declares his candidacy to woo silicon valley and to make the democrats the party of silicon valley. and prior there had been close ties with republicans both at the national and state level. but there is a moment where they're trying to figure -- you know, a medium -- that is defined as the wild west. and that where the advocates from the internet from the valley are talking about it as a frontier, talking about it in a
very fredrick jackson turner sort of way. sort of wide open spaces waiting to be conquered, limitless possibility. but are arguing for keeping the -- something that on principle that sounds very good to members of both parties as well as defenders of free speech, which is keeping the internet free and as out of the influence of the media companies, including cable, as possible. so there is a political battle essentially in which media is defined by -- as the telecoms and as as the cable provider who want to control -- have control over the information flow and where newly formed organizations like the electronic frontier foundation, the eff argue to keep it a jeffersonen internet so to speak, place where many different voices can blossom. and leaders of both parties,
republicans first in the opposition in congress and then after 1995 as the majority in congress led by newt ginrich and democrats in the white house are -- it's one of the few things in the mid-1990s the two parties agree on by and large. but what was not realized -- and this is less a case of the government letting -- letting the american people down but really not realizing that some of these scrappy little companies, these -- some of these guys would become google, become facebook, would become, you know, even silicon valley itself, even those people arguing for the jeffersonian internet. even mitch caper who was part of the electronic frontier foundation. who wrote about the notion. later reflected that we had no idea people were use the internet -- we were to naive. we had no idea people would use it for bad as well as good.
neither did regulators or politicians in the 90s. there was no conception and such a boutique issue and the technology was so very little understood -- meredith and i were talking last night about there is few people in washington that now really grasp the technology which is a real challenge. and lack of that gulf of understanding of what -- you know, ai is not machine learning. it's not -- in thing -- this transposes into when you have policy making. so at the end, you know, why is the internet economy -- why is our current tech economy, the software plant platforms so unregulated? they're not regulated like the cable companies were. they're not regulate ed like nearly everything else. what we are do something now kind of grappling with a post hoc regulatory decision making akin to the gilded age and progressive era where the new economy companies grow so large and we need to to back -- we
need to figure out a which to contain and channel this -- this energy in a way that allows them to continue to grow and do their business but also not to have these second order and third order effects. and that sort of between 1993 and 1997 there is a -- a moment that is so consequential to what happens where the media technology landscape is now. and the state didn't realize what they were deciding to do or not to do. >> let's go ahead and take our first question. >> these panels -- these panelists are great and so interesting. i'm wondering, as somebody interested in local radio and we have somebody who here who built a low power fm station our fm in louisville, kentucky. i'm wondering what you see as the potential for a democratic
media or policies that could potentially promote a jeffersonian internet or, you know, radio, television, computing from the bottom up that actually brings the voices of people in localities to the surface. >> who wants to take that? >> well i can start by saying i don't have the solution. but i can tell you that that's a debate that has been at the core of regulatory issues. when connie asked the question of how has the state let the people down, i would have actually said that i -- i think that politicians are constantly, you know, throughout -- they're having the regulatory debates in the 1970s and the 1980s and rethinking about how they can restructure the regime that many people are pointing out the problems.
there are a lot of problems what can we do about it? the language of diversity that we need to to have diversity of voices, localism, we need to empower local communities, return the media back to the people, that is so powerful in their debates. and how they're framing it. and they're talking about the importance of consumers. you know, and really privileging their interests. but what they actually do is they're really shaped more by their self-interest. and you see a corporate structure without. and so -- so i think there is the tension that has always been there. and so it's kind of wading through, you know, what -- what these policies could actually do, would they provide more diversity, more -- more ways for local communities to have control? or do they actually just replicate some of the corporate structures that allow for you
know the massive amounts of mergers that happen in the 1980s and 1990s that then stifle those very ventures you're talking about, kate. >> we have a question up here while we wait for the mike to get there, let me ask you meredith, you were a member of the media, a reporter for the philadelphia enquirer now you are a member of the media in the new area you work in. how have you or have you been welcomed by the journalism community in this new area you want to work in. >> one of the really wonderful things about working in journalism as opposed to working in tech for me is that journalism is vastly less sexist than the tech industry. the sexism you face as a woman doing computer science, i found it unbearable. everything they say about the social forces that conduct women out of tech careers, they're all true.
all right. so journalism for all of its faults is just an extraordinary place compared to the tech industry. so it feels like a privilege to be able to do what i love, which is building technology in a realm that i really love and to be able to actually communicate with people about what i'm doing. >> so you find journalists are open to the idea of using your data in terms of in their stories. >> so data journalism is a fast growing field. people have only really been talking about data journalism since say 2006. but it actually dates back much further. so the first time that somebody used a computer for an investigative reporting story was in 1968. it was a reporter named phil meyer who looked at the detroit
race riots and the dominant narrative at that point was that the race riots were most of the people involved were lower class. and so he did in analysis where class. so he did this analysis where he did a survey and so used the tools of social scientific research in order to conduct a survey. he used a main frame to analyze the survey results and found the participants cut across the class spectrum and that tells us a very different story about who was participating in the race riots in detroit and also what does it mean for the community. so philip myers work in the '60s morphed into commuter assist answer reporting which is a dorky name but that is what we called it in the 80s and the 90s when the big ref lauvelation th
every reporter had a desktop reporter. it is off of main franls that you could use data journalism and what we started calling it when we started using more internet tools. >> thanks. yes. >> excellent panel. amazing. i love the conversation that all four of you had. my question is to meredith and i'd like to know if you think that it would be fair to say there are causal links between the rise of ai and the decline of humanity over the last 30 years and if so what can we do on the humanity to take on tech techno chaufism. it is just about staying
relevant. but there is a mentality that there is that really rain and rewards techno chauf anism like political science like economics have years of the policymakers not the humanities. part of a bigger problem. but what could humanities do and i worry about techno chaufism in our own ways. >> thank you. that is a really good question. what can we do to work against this? i think it starts with admitting that techno chaufism works and that is it is not superior to solutions from the social sciences or solutions from the humanities, that each is valid. i think we have to look at funding inequality. you have to look at the funding
for the humanities and social sciences versus the funding for data science, for darpa and we have to remedy that particular inequality. because there is a lot of nonsense that gets funded through the nsf and through darpa and a lot of those funds could be re-appropriated and put into the neh and into the nea. so we have to think about the money, we also need to address economic inequality in terms of the pay gap. so one of the reasons that we don't have more data journalists is because of the really profound pay gap between what you could make as a journalist and as someone who does ai in silicon valley. so you go into journalism and say you're going to make $30,000 or $40,000 a year as a starting salary. you could make ten times as much
as a starting salary just out of college doing ai and that is absurd. and that doesn't use to be the case. in the 1960s and '70s when technology policy was developing, the gap between what you made as a doctor or lawyer and what you made as a social worker was much smaller. and now the gap between what you make as a technology executive and as a teacher, it's unfathomable. so one thing we can do is pay teachers more. and if we pay teachers more, that just not just university professors but k through 12 teachers but if we pay teachers more than we'll have more talent in the classroom teaching our younger generation about technology. so right now we have -- i mean
when i meet compute science teachers, some are wonderful and some are gym teachers and are teaching compute science and that is google docs because that is the cash strapped school district. i think it is about economics. i think it is about looking at priorities and also thinking about race and ethnicity. because part of the narrative inside technology has been that the technology is objective. that is unbiased and therefore superior. and when you ignore incredibly important social factors like how race and ethnicity and structural racism functions, you build systems that do not get us toward the kind of society that we want to live in.
so i think we need to integrate systems. there is a discipline of dana rhythm that is my little corner and it is a really promising field. one of the things that we do inial inial go rhythmic and we interrogate them and say are these fair and just. generally the answer is no. and then we also build our own algorithms in order to look at how systems function and to find the flaws in the system. >> so margarita, when you were looking at your history of silicon valley, what is your take from what you heard here? >> i think this has a history and techno chaufism has a
history. and think about silicon valley comes from two professions that were entirely all white and all male and not necessarily elite. there were plenty of penniless boys from south carolina who got scholarships to m.i.t. and went on to -- there is a lot of founding generation of the valley where men from a modest background went to rice university because it had free tuition, came to stanford for grad school because they could work at the same time. all of the ivy leaguers stayed on the east coast and worked for fortunate 50 companies. and so it was all male. so it is the world of engineering where women were not -- you could say if a woman wanted to major in math, like sorry, we don't allow women in the program. this is the '50s and '60s. and the other vertical was
finance/mba, executive management. and harvard didn't admit women. they had a very homogenous world. and the magic of silicon valleys is the baton and as my friend leslie bollon talks about is passing the baton from one generation to another. the semiconductor generation funds the computer generation and does the same to the internet generation and then to the social media generation but they have pattern recognition. i give money to -- i'm going to invest in this guy, in this person, because they went to stanford, computer science and they're wearing a hoodie and somewhere on the spectrum. and, yeah, because it is also this gut thing where you're giving resources to people because you just believe in the person not just the product. so that is part of what makes it work.
that is the challenge. it is part of if you want to explain what the magic of silicon valley is, it is the insull airity. and there is a lot of money. darpa is funding a lot of silly things but darpa is the giant in computer science because of government austerity, everything else got cut away. and scientists deeply ambivalent about taking any money from the pentagon, they had to find a way to say i'm working on this thing that doesn't have -- darpa is the only way i could get money for what i want to do so certain parts of the government and military is one part that keeps on getting money, gets appropriations, and the rest, not even neh and nea but other parts have been cut away whereas military agencies are funding
basic research but it is for certain -- some long range applicability for some military purpose in some way. so all of these things are feeding in. this is not to say this is intractable and we can't fix it but recognizing the political history and the way that this has been structured and embedded in this larger narrative of political history that we all -- so many people in this room write about and think about. so many people who are watching are thinking about and living that recognizing that, that is the way you identify how you perhaps change. and anyone looking at history does show all of these instances of where things did change remarkably. and so there is -- if we are frustrated by this imbalance and i think technology themselves are very frustrated by that they recognize there needs so be some reframing and some incorporation whether we call it afix or something else, there is
understanding this history is a way to get to a different future. >> thanks. next question. >> when you look at political polarization and dysfunction today, you have to look at cable tv and the internet as two of the primary drivers of this. they're right at the top of list. and i just wonder what you think about -- and they're only growing stronger and more important in american daily life, what is the way out of this? i wonder what you see in terms of what comes next and what is the way out of sort of fixing this problem? >> katie. >> it is a really great question and i think the dominant narrative around cable is that it has created this polarization. but i think that narrative does foreground the technology more, that cable is doing this.
rather this is people -- a variety of politicians who are using cable platforms to pursue different strategies, right. so newt gingrich, a really brilliantly seeing an opportunity to take c-span and turn it into a way to blast his opponents, even though no one else is watching. and nationalize congressional politics in new ways. so i think that is important to think about how there are choices in terms of how the medium is used but also the ramification of relying and putting that faith in the market. if it is about competition and what sells, becomes defined as news, then you have a very different style after news. and i think that is one of the shifts that is important to
understand, is that the news as it existed in the 1960s and 1970s, sure, advocated for finding this consensus, but it was very much one that was driven by white wealthy and middle class men who are part of the establishment and didn't allow other voices to come into play. and so i think one of the things to appreciate about what cable does in terms of providing at first tens and then hundreds and now we have so many more channels that it does give voice to different perspectives. so there is a shift. a shift for more of an elitist perception of what constitutes as news and where people are going for their information so this more diverse and again bringing in the market principles, what counts as news is what people think and tune into and how they vote with mir remote controls.
so i think there is a payoff but it is also important to note that this older system of broadcast network television also had a lot of problems inherent in it as well. in terms of solutions, again, i don't have any concrete ones. but i think just recognizing that what the medium offers, recognizing its limitations, recognizing what is driving it in terms of some of the challenges and the political choice that are being made in terms of how to deploy the media formats are really important to consider. >> so margaret, i saw a statistic in some of your work where you said that 10% of the american people at the height of walter conkrite doing the evening news were watching him and yet today if i did the math right it is like 23 times that
number and not the percentage but the number are involved in twitter and facebook and that kind of thing. take what she said and go from there. >> well, yeah and they're two very different types of information dissemination. so it is scaled up in user base but also the way that people are interacting with information. the way that someone watched walter conkrite in 1967 was that you sat down in front of the television at a certain time and you had 30 minutes and 30 minutes creates a high bar for news. as katie was saying, it is highly curated but also curated by people in power. it is taking what government officials, by late 60s you get some pushback but it is a certain point of view of the ivy league educated east coast based media but very limited so you couldn't have silly news
stories. so what cable creates and what the internet has exacerbated is this spin cycle, the 24/7 just hunger for content in which trivial things become multi-day news stories and the way many people are using, including all of us, the way we use media is much less deliberate. now i shall look at my twitter for 30 minutes and learn everything i need to know. it is not curated. it is a blizzard of information. so anything is in little snippets and some of is great import and one of the upsides of the internet age is this intense transparency and now there is revelation. but it becomes immune to all of this bad stuff. you don't take things as
seriously. whereas when walter con cite stopped in february of 1968 and turned to the camera and had a brief editorial moment in which he said the vietnam war has reached a stalemate, this is something that we have -- we are in something that we cannot get out of in the way that we expect, that had ricochetted through politics. johnson didn't run for reelection. we don't have those moments any more even though there is so much more consumption of so much information. >> next question. go ahead. >> one of the things that i really appreciated, meredith, about your stance, to get in there and doing technology reporting especially for those of us who are historians, i don't think we're doing a good job of capturing the tide that we're all standing in. when you speak to most people about ai or things like that and
you start to even speak about some of the people in the field, they don't know who some of the basics are like ray cursewild or those formulating this layer of complexity around us and we in our own realm haven't delved into it too much. haven't imported the history of silicon valley into what we're teaching our students the way we have with the history of the steel industry. we haven't integrated that to make it a part of their understanding. and because we have only a few little articles here and media has surprised itself by realizing when we did the facebook movie, oh, my gosh, that was less than ten years ago but it is moving so fast i think historians are not prepared for the speed of the industry sometimes because we like two, three, four, five decades back
to look at things but we haven't begun giv -- we haven't been given both of that space and i try to bring to my students and radio audience that look for people that are doing this -- and i think it has to be more of a cross over for people like you who are bringing this technical perspective into technical writing and giving it more of a historical perspective. and i really like that a lot. what is the big point you think that -- and for the whole panel -- what do you think the biggest thing that historians are missing about this moment of technology? what's the secret? where is the book that is going to break this loose and wake us up to realize that we are in a renaissance and not realizing
it. >> i this is it's margaret's book. >> thanks, meredith. available for preorder. >> i think if you read margaret's book and my book next to each other i think it will give a really good historical overview as well as technical overview of how do we understand all of these forces. i think that we've only been -- publishers have only been investing in books that counter the dominant technology narrative in the past three to four years. so it is really not surprising that we haven't had such a narrative until now because publishers are driven by marketing and everybody believed that technology was the future and everybody believed that the techno libertarian rhetoric and
everybody believed the new communalist rhetoric is that cyberspace is going to change the world and empower people and only in the past three or four years have people said maybe that is not strictly true. so i'm really excited that that dialogue is happening now. one thing that i would also say that is important for historians to start grappling with is how -- the question of how do with do history in the future. because when you think about twitter posts as an historical archive, so what you get from twitter as a civilian is a garden hose of twitter data and there is a fire hose of all of
the twitter data but have you to pay for it. and twitter is not going to be around forever. so what is going to happen to all of that data? you think about newspapers and you think about how are newspapers archived? well we know a lot about how to archive print news because you could go to any library and you could find a newspaper from 1849 and you could read the entire paper for the entire day in 1849. you could see all of the ads, you could see all of the copy and who wrote what and that is a useful tool for history but you can't actually go to say the "boston globe" and see everything that was written in the "boston globe" on a given day in 2002 because there is the print paper and then the digital version of the paper and then the website and then there is social media and there is god knows what else --
>> and the ads. >> yeah, the ads change for everybody. so you can't see those. and they're like made with a proprietary ad technology that doesn't exist any more. because 2002 is ages ago in internet time. so this is a really big problem. the fact that we've invested in all of the technological systems for creating media, it is really great. but at the same time we're shooting ourselves in the foot because in five years you're not going to be able to read any of today's news. especially not the more cutting-edge digital news so data journalism projects are hard to preserve. >> so katie brunell, pickle up that mirror to your own industry, historians, people teaching history, what do you think. >> well i think that question
makes me think about the key idea that has emerged from all of my research looking at the cable industry and that is the fact that how technology is defined is a political process. and i think that is really important to understand. because again just seeing all of these different moments, looking at cable and how people were talking about how it could be used, it's potential and the policies that should shape its development, this is so deeply embedded in the politics of that particular moment. and it changes so dramatically and that is one of the fascinating things about the cable industry is because it is not a new technology in t the '70s, it is not a new technology in the '90s but the ways in which it is talked about and it is potential and how it will solve all of these problems really is changed because of the political battles that are being
fought, a lot of times in the public eye, and a lot of times behind the scenes as well. so i think it is really important to understand that and then to think about how, who is influencing that discussion of how this technology is being defined. you have consumers, constituents writing to their representatives, demanding access, demanding certain things. lobbyists are playing a key role in terms of shaping the public relations debate and politicians, how they understand technology frequently is shaped by how they use it so those are key things to considerate this moment when everything is changing so quickly. it is hard to keep up with technology. there is a reason my book will end in the '90s because i think the environment changes -- >> you think that now.
>> that is what i thought, too. >> because all of a sudden everything does escalate quickly but i think some of the fundamental questions in terms of power structures are still at play. >> so, margaret, are historians up for this challenge? >> of course. come on, connie. i think one of the things that historians are very good at doing is where we are in tech as meredith said three or four years ago it was changing the world, it is the future. and now we've swung violently to the other side where it is a bad, bad, bad, so bad. where i find myself whereas before i was the person saying well maybe it isn't all good. this is more complicated and now i'm like, we have super-computers in our pockets. guys, they've done some good things. so what historians are good at is showing this complex nuance, and making sense of all of the
data, showing the good and the bad and why you could grapple without an understanding phenomenon not just as all good or bad but providing historical context and helping people understand this complex subject as something that is actionable. but i think that is really where the historians super power is, is bringing this together. and i think the other dimension is historians as teachers and writers of history also have an obligation, i share meredith's deep alarm with the state of the internet archive broadly defined. which is that we as historians need to be archival activists and be talking about here is how historians do what they do and produce the things that others read and learn from, here is what needs to be done with this new digital archive, not just
digitizing things but thinking about how you grapple with the twitter feeds and with the ephemeral advertising, how do you preserve that record and not to mention just the broad record of the web itself and because that is itself, people trying to do that but that is not jet an institutional project on the scale that other archives have been in the past so let's talk and think about this and make people aware of why these gaps exist and how they need to be remedied. >> we have time for one more question. >> -- exacerbated by attempts by cable companies and tech companies like facebook and twitter to become self-appointed arbiters of proper political speech through use of stalinist phrases like hate speech that have been used to try to suppress conservative or traditional views and a couple
of examples have been the states from the covington catholic high school went to the lincoln memorial and were berated by an american indiana activist and a parody video of nancy pelosi online and got -- so how do you scholar scholar -- scholars addressing the future writings. >> could we combine that question with professor berkin as well. >> very interesting that you talked about public policy. you talked about technology, where do you see the influence of advertisers in the shaping of -- i've often said to my children that the mute button, the inventor of the mute button ought to get a nobel peace prize
because i mute out the commercials. but to what extent do they influence or the competition for them influence the kind of programming that you see not just on general television or not just -- but on cable tv as well. >> who wants to start? weaponization, advertising? >> i see these two questions as very connected because the advertising, the ad-based model, the business model, that is the model by which these platforms and think about facebook, think about google/youtube and the places in which these debates about whose speech gets heard is where the companies are driven by two things, one, they're ad-based model and shareholders and for-profit companies but
also are informed by a politics, a small amount of politics that i see the point of origin being the gates computer science building on the campus the home of sergei penin and others went to school and the idea of we're in the business of creating a platform in which conversation can happen. but the way that this is functioned now that these are incredibly important media companies, that these platforms have become places for speech of all kinds and that what is being understood as senscensorship ofe voices is a product of companies that don't want to take sides or don't know how to navigate, they've become producers of media and what is enabling the companies to do what they do and to sell ads, to have very
tailor tailored ads is created what i refer to as a runaway train, this process in which you have different pieces of content produced by different people that has a way of spiking out and then also reactions to that. sa and there is no -- i don't see, from my understanding and understanding how the history of the companies and how the companies work and think and what is driving them, i don't see censorship, i see a desire to keep this and fight for this neutrality which is actually is based now and very different from when it was a search engine created by a couple of graduate students. they've become much more powerful and embedded in different parts of life. so this is the great dilemma of the companies that they're going to need to take sides without taking sides, if that makes
sense. and at same time they have to serve their ad-based model because how do you change it and probably the way it's going to be changed is with our third part -- the state but some sort of regulation and what is that regulation going to look like and how do you preserve the jeffersonny an internet and allow different types of voices to be heard across the spectrum at the same time without having state of affairs that we have now which no one seems very happy with. >> i could tackle the advertising question and give it to you to take it home. but one thing to add that your question makes me think of that i hadn't really spent a lot of time analyzing but i think is a really important component of the story is that the argument for cable television in the '70s
and '80s hinged on the idea that subscribers would be the one that cable would be serving. so again, that empowerment of the consumer, that they would offer new types of program, from espn to mtv to c-span and all of the channels and the argument behind it is that this pay tv, hbo for example, one of the early models of this, that that would be all subscription based and some have remained subscription based but majority of them have shifted towards advertising model and that happens over the '80s and into the '90s as well. so i think that is an interesting shift in terms of the business model, where the cable industry begins with all of these ideas about how they're going to be different. they're going to be different from broadcasting, solve some of these problems that people are
talking about with the broadcasting model. but they actually, as they become more of this consolidated corporate media structure, they take on some of the very structures and very ideas that are embedded in broadcasting and they become a new player in the model and they replicate it. >> i would say that one of the things i'm really interested in, in thinking about the ad model, is i'm interested in advertising fraud. so they estimate that something like $7 billion of internet advertising is about ad fraud. so there is a vast amount of fraud in internet advertising. i've heard that organized crime is heavily invested in ad fraud nowadays. so this is something i've been wanting to write about for a long time but i haven't found the right hook yet.
so i think that's a major complicating factor when we think about the success of facebook, google, twitter and their ad model. i would also be really interested in looking at the historical perspective of how did newspapers dreaddress this. because there was a similar advertising fraud crisis in the wild west era of newspapers. because you could just print a whole lot of newspapers and then throw them away and then claim that you printed this number and so that was your circulation so we have things like the advertising bureau of circulation of abc that came into being. and we do have the iab, the internet advertising bureau, but they're effectiveness is
limited, i guess. so i'm really curious about that. and then, margaret, i wanted to pick up on something you said and, katie, i was reminded by your work on kind of the way that government regulation has advanced around cable television, i was thinking about the way that telecom policy evolved, the way that broadcast regulatory policy evolved and i've been thinking lately about the silicon valley idea of iteration. because that is an idea that i do really like. i like the idea that, okay, we can try something and see if it works and then if it doesn't, then you try to do better. and i think that the way that this fits with the law. because the law evolves, the law is the original artifact that
iterates, right. even the constitution, we have iterations of the constitution. so i wonder if, when it comes to regulating the social media platforms, we should regulate and then iterate. let go of the idea we have to get it right on the first try, and let's just try something. because doing nothing doesn't seem to have worked very well. so maybe let's just try something. and let's put it in place for a little bit and if it doesn't work, let's change it and iterate it. >> very roosevelt. >> yeah. >> i'm the timekeeper so we have to wrap up. thank you very much, dr. broussard, dr. brunell, dr. rammera, let's give them a round of applause. >> thank you. [ applause ] [ concluded ]
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fall 13 years later with a repeal of the 18th amendment. this year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of prohibition. watch american history tv tonight and over the weekend on c-span3. up next, from purdue university political history conference, a panel of biographers talk about subjects including sammy davis jr. and jim and tammy faye baker and muhammad ali. >> thank you for attending our session on this beautiful friday afternoon. i'll have to compete with the outdoors and hopefully we'll convince you you've made the right choice hanging out with us to talk about media and biography in political history. between the four of us, we have written at least 17 biographies and it might be more than that. i was losing count because randy