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Dissertation Information for Greg Downey

- Greg Downey
- (Alias) Gregory John Downey

- Ph.D.

- [No Discipline Recorded]

- Johns Hopkins University (USA) (2000)

- None

- None

MPACT Status: Incomplete - Not_Inspected

Title: "Uniformed boys for every occasion": Telegraph messenger labor in the first communications internetwork, 1850--1950

Abstract: "This dissertation is an analysis of the role of ""information labor"" in shaping both urban space and technological systems. I explore the history and geography of the US telegraph network from 1850 to 1950 through a study of that industry's most contingent workers, the telegraph messenger boys.

The US telegraph network was really made up of two interconnected systems, one a national-scale system of inter-city telegraph wires and operators, dominated by Western Union (WU), and the other a series of city-scale systems of electromechanical call-boxes and boy messengers, dominated by Western Union subcontractor American District Telegraph (ADT). Messengers were the link between the two scales, funneling telegrams into and out of the national system, and extending the reach of the telegraph from a handful of urban branch offices to the surrounding city and countryside.

I make three main arguments. First, messengers were part and parcel of the telegraph network, a ""technological system"" which has primarily only been analyzed in terms of its heroic inventors or their clever devices. Second, through the labor of the messengers, the very space of the telegraph network was transformed, and with it the urban spaces where that network was grounded. Finally, in the dialectic of cooperation and competition that characterized the relationship between all three information networks of the time--the ""internetwork"" of telegraph, telephone, and Post Office--messengers served a crucial function of tying disparate forms of communication together."

MPACT Scores for Greg Downey

A = 0
C = 7
A+C = 7
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2012-08-11 11:08:10

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Students under Greg Downey

- None

- Yunkeum Kim - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2003)
- Sook Lim - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2004)
- Patricia Lawton - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2006)
- Terrance S. Newell - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2006)
- Lynne C. Chase - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2007)
- Nathan R Johnson - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2011)
- Xiaohua Zhu - University of Wisconsin, Madison (2011)