Kevin Driscoll is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. (CV)


Popular computing

Currently, I am working on a book about the technical culture of dial-up bulletin board systems (BBSs), tentatively titled The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media. In the 1980s, hobbyist BBSs provided an infrastructure for the emergence of online community and many of the practices that we value today originated in these low-cost systems. This research builds on my dissertation, Hobbyist inter-networking and the popular internet imaginary: Forgotten histories of networked personal computing, 1978-1998. Henry Jenkins was the committee chair along with François Bar and Alison Trope.

I am especially interested comparative histories that look beyond North America. Toward this end, Julien Mailland and I recently wrote a book about the technology, culture, and political-economy of Minitel during the 1980s and 1990s in France. Watch out for this book in June 2017 from The MIT Press.

Related publications

Political talk online

I'm also working on a number of projects related to popular culture and political talk online with my former colleagues from USC including François Bar, Dayna Chatman, Lian Jian, Jieun Shin, and Kjerstin Thorson. Using a combination of macro-scale computational methods (thematic clustering, natural language processing) and micro-scale textual analysis, we have explored rumor diffusion and de-bunking, humor and live-tweeting during televised presidential debates, and the interrelationship of Black Twitter and Scandal fandom.

Related publications

Polaroid by Mikael Kennedy

Photo credit: Mikael Kennedy, 2007

Other writing

Elsewhere on the www

Higher volume Twitter account for day-to-day talk.
Minitel Research Lab, USA
Online archive of devices and ephemera related to the French network that ran continuously from 1982-2012.
Various software tools I've written for research.
Net neutrality research database
Mapping the net neutrality controversy. a little dated but still useful.
Alternative net histories timeline
Experiment in using timelines to depict interwoven historical narratives.
Feature Phone
Scrapbook of weird phones and other mobile tech.
Animated GIF Zoetrope
Print and play on a standard turntable. (Warning: 13MB PDF!)
Lone Wolf - Nightwind
A mixtape of slowed trance music for late night driving.
Research-related bookmarks
Web rings

Spring 2017 events

Screening of Reality at the University of Virginia French Film Festival
February 24, 2017

Command Lines: Software, Power and Performance, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
March 18-19, 2017

Home Computer Subcultures and Society Before the Internet Age, Zürich, Switzerland
March 24-25, 2017

Dial-up: A Grassroots History of Social Media, Spring Lecture Series 2017: The Making of the Digital World (organized by Anne Schenderlein and Elisabeth Engel), German Historical Institute, Washington, DC
April 20, 2017

International Communication Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA
May 25-29, 2017