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, now available 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


Minitel: Welcome to the Internet book jacket

Other artifacts

Elsewhere on the www

Minitel Research Lab, USA
Online archive of devices and ephemera related to the French network that ran continuously from 1982-2012.
Twitter account for occasional professional updates.
The most important piece of software in my research toolkit.
Internet Archive
Old computer books and magazines I've digitized and shared.
Various software tools I've written for research.
What were the earliest .edu domain names?
Historical lists of dot-edu domains including very early domains and HBCUs.
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