Media Technologies

Courses for Fall 2014

Greetings Internaut!

My name is Juan Monroy, and this the course notes blog for the courses I teach. Throughout the semester, I will be posting announcements, relevant news, and other timely information that relates to our class. Please visit often and feel free to comment.

If you’re enrolled in one of my courses, or are considering enrolling, please review the courses I am teaching this Fall 2014 semester.

Course School Day and Time Course Website
Introduction to Media Industries Fordham University, Lincoln Center Mon and Thu, 2:30 – 3:45
Introduction to Electronic Media Fordham University, Lincoln Center Tuesdays, 2:30 – 5:15
Media Technologies CUNY Queens College Wednesdays, 6:30 – 9:20
Experimental Film Pratt Institute Thursdays, 5:30 – 8:20

If you have any questions about these courses, please email me at

What’s on the Final Exam?

For years, students have asked me, “what’s on the final exam?” I usually offer a vague answer along the lines of “questions on everything we covered since the midterm,” but in the interest of trying something new, here’s a breakdown of exactly what will be on the midterm, including the subject of each question.

The final exam will consist of four parts, covering material from the entire course. The four parts are: true-false, multiple-choice, identifications, and short answers. Material from before the midterm will only appear on the first two (objective) sections, and the exam will favor material from after the midterm exam. Moreover, the questions on material from before the midterm exam will be more general in scope that questions on material from after the midterm exam.


There will be ten (10) questions on the following topics from the course, each worth two points.

  1. magazines
  2. broadcast radio
  3. magazines
  4. Internet
  5. broadcast radio
  6. telephone
  7. Internet
  8. television
  9. writing
  10. writing

Here’s an example of such a question:

1. Machine-made paper, developed in the 1830s, made books more expensive because they were of a higher quality.

  • True
  • False

Multiple Choice

There will be ten (10) questions on the following topics from the course, each worth three points.

  1. recorded sound
  2. radio technology
  3. motion pictures
  4. telephone
  5. radio technology
  6. broadcast radio
  7. radio technology
  8. telephone
  9. Internet
  10. Internet

Here’s an example of such a question:

2. Which of the following was the first commercially viable use for radio waves?

  1. high-power ovens
  2. wireless telegraphy
  3. wireless telephony
  4. mass broadcasting


Like the midterm exam, these questions require you to define or identify each term or phrase and describe its relevance to the history and culture of mediated communication. There will be five (5) questions, each worth five points. Your response should be about two-to-three sentences in length.

  1. recorded sound
  2. television
  3. motion pictures
  4. broadcast radio
  5. Internet

Here’s an example of an identification.

3. ARPANet

Short Answer

There will be four questions, of which you will answer three (3) with a two-paragraph response, about six to eight sentences. Each question is worth ten points each.

  1. television
  2. telephone
  3. motion pictures
  4. Internet

Here is an example of a short answer question:

4. Discuss how the development of movable type printing led to the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution.

Remember to use the outlines that I posted on the course website for studying. If understand those outlines, you should be fine. If you don’t understand something, look it up in the readings or even search the web. As a last resort, email me or the class list to verify something.

Good luck.

The Internet Before the Web

Last night we surveyed the development of computer technology throughout the twentieth century.

  1. The fundamentals of all computers, including bits and bytes
  2. Storage media, including punch cards, magnetic and optical media
  3. Processors to count the bits, including diodes, transistors, and microprocessors
  4. Computers from military mainframes, corporate minicomputers, and personal microcomputers
  5. Networking platforms, including military LANs and WANs, ARPANet, Ethernet, Bulletin Board Services of the 1980s, and the Internet

By 1993, a dedicated base of computers, ranging from military personal, university researchers, and computer hobbyists were using personal computers, networked together through a large computer network of networks, the Internet. The World Wide Web wouldn’t take off until after the first graphical browser, Mosaic.

But that’s not to say that some popular uses for the Internet weren’t around. People were exchanging vital documents, they were shopping for music, they were forming communities, they were accessing libraries of information, they were producing asynchronous radio programs, and they were even video conferencing.

In this 1993 episode of a long-running television series, The Computer Chronicles, we see some of the early uses of the Internet before the World Wide Web.



Do you know what this is? What does it look like to you? Does it look like a canyon?

What about this one?


On second thought, that looks too smooth for a canyon.

Back in 2005, an optics class at the University Rochester magnified a series of small objects with an electron microscope.

One of them was of a vinyl record, which is what you’re seeing in those images above.

A different set of images have been circulating online. You can see the needle riding the grooves of a record, bumps and all.


And here is a similar view of a stereophonic record with a greater magnification. The halftone suggests it was scanned from a book.


Sound is vibrational energy.

The earliest sound recordings, such as those developed by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in the 1860s and later by Thomas Edison and Emile Berliner in the 1880s, were something like fossils of those vibrations. Those sounds and their vibrations are preserved inside of these tiny grooves.

Louis LePrince and Thomas Edison

A couple of follow up notes to what we discussed last night.

  1. Although Edison was first to market the kinetograph in the United States, there is compelling evidence that Louis LePrince was the first to invent a single-lens camera. He vanished in 1890, a year before Edison and WKL Dickson made the first successful camera test with the kinetograph.
  2. LePrince’s film, Roundhay Garden Scene, from 1888, is available on YouTube.
  3. A few years ago, Ars Technica profiled the the Motion Pictures Patents Company, the Thomas Edison–led cartel.
  4. Speaking of patent pools, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and Sony Ericsson all own patents related to mobile telephony that were once owned by the now-defunct Nortel Networks. They outbid Google and Samsung for the patent portfolio in 2011.

I’ll try to get around to watching the 220-minute version of Heaven’s Gate (1980). You should, too.

Did You Start Reading The Master Switch?

I just wanted to make sure everyone had the book by now. Remember, it’s a long book so even if you do speed read it, it will still take you about six solid hours to read it. And you’ll probably need a break so it’s not like you can set aside 10am – 4pm on Sunday to do that.

If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can get it from:

I’ll check in tomorrow to see how much you’ve read.

The Telegraph and What It Wrought

I apologize for not screening the video The Transatlantic Cable last night. If you want a concise summary of the struggle to link North America with Europe via telegraph, read this unillustrated article from History magazine. It overlaps with the story of the American Experience documentary.

Speaking of the transatlantic cable, I misstated the number of attempts it took to finally successfully connect North America with Europe via cable in 1866. It took three attempts, not four.

Remember how the first cable largely failed because Wildman Whitehouse had sent too much voltage through the wire, which caused the insulation to break and ultimately fail? The solution that ultimately worked was proposed by William Thompson, later known as Lord Kelvin. He employed a mirror galvanometer to magnify the weak signal. It was also used to diagnose the cable when it was being laid to sea.

The boat that was ultimately used to law the third and ultimately successful transatlantic cable was the Great Eastern. I misspoke when I said that it was designed to go from the US to Australia. Actually, it was built to go from England to its penal colony in Oceania (or Australia).

For those wondering what it was like to send a telegram, I updated the slides to show a basic flow:

  1. Crafting a message
  2. Dictating at a local telegraph office
  3. Transcribing message to Morse Code
  4. Relay from one telegraph office to another
  5. Production of a telegram
  6. Dispatch of a delivery boy
  7. Final delivery of a message

You can also get a sense of this by watching certain movies made before World War II.

Finally, if you’re interested in see how your computer relays traffic from one computer to another, do a traceroute.

Unfit for Our Print Class

Admittedly, we scratched the surface of many events and concepts that require some deeper examination, but as we were focused on the technology of print, we didn’t get to explore them in much depth. Here’s a few things you might like to research to get a sense of what we were discussing last night.

  • Chinese block printing predates the Gutenberg press by about 1,000 years, and by about 1000 AD, the Chinese had already developed a movable type printing press. However, Gutenberg’s press would be more efficient because his language used a small alphabet as opposed to the logograms used by the Chinese.
  • Speaking of which, the Latin alphabet derives from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets from the 7th century BC.
  • Gutenberg’s Movable Type reduced the cost, in terms of time and money, necessary to produce a bible: “In 1455, Gutenberg demonstrated the power of the printing press by selling copies of a two-volume Bible (Biblia Sacra) for 300 florins each. This was the equivalent of approximately three years’ wages for an average clerk, but it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible that could take a single monk 20 years to transcribe.”[1]
  • Don’t forget to visit one of the Gutenberg Bibles at the Morgan Library (they have three copies) or the New York Public Library (theirs is printed on vellum).
  • With his Ninety-Five Theses, Martin Luther begat the Protestant Reformation of the Catholic Church.
  • Here’s a great BBC radio program from 2006 on Diderot’s Encyclopedie. If you have a chance, read the Preliminary Discourse by Jean Le Rond d’Alembert.
  • Stanford University has digitized dime novels, which were the epitome of mass-produced print in the nineteenth century.

See you in two weeks.

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Producing Independent Movies

Queens College students, are you looking for an additional class?

Media Studies 265: Producing Independent Movies is about to be cancelled. It meets on Wednesdays from 1:40 – 4:20. It a class about how movies, TV and all of filmed entertainment is actually made.

Liz Foley, the instructor, offers the following pitch:

The class is a lot of fun and a provides hands on knowledge of how things get done in the business, including business planning, casting, putting together a team and much more. I love teaching it and I’d really like to save it. If three people register today or tomorrow, I can probably stave off it’s execution.

Sign up today.