It is a perennial lament among historians that Americans suffer from historical amnesia. This affliction is very much in evidence in 21st century attempts to make sense of our currrent emotional responses to technology. Critics map out these emotions by referencing psychologists, cognitive scientists and tech pundits. But how often are historians of the emotions consulted? Not so much.
The book Susan Matt and I am writing is an attempt to redress this affliction. We look at the hopes and dissappointments that past Americans harbored toward communication technologies and contrast them with 21st century emotional responses. Our research so far reveals many continuities and discontinuities.
A model of our approach is in evidence in our Chronicle of Higher Education article Before MOOCs, 'Colleges of the Air'