A02 - The Culture of Telecommunication Standardisation in the Tensions of the Digital and Neoliberal ‘Double Revolution’
This project examines the interdependencies between technical development and institutional change in the period of the digital and neoliberal ‘double revolution’ around the 1980s. In the second funding period individual companies from the European IT industry (midrange computing) like Philips, Nixdorf, Olivetti or Siemag and their individual protagonists are taken into account in order to understand the interrelations between technical standardisation and market liberalisation alongside the analogue/digital threshold. Remarkably, these producers of hardware and software technologies, which had taken a continuous development of technology, media and data practices since mechanical typewriters, vanished from the markets in the 1980s. This project starts from the assumption that the standardisation culture, due to its normative categories of thinking, standardising and regulating, shaped the digitisation of European telecommunication networks and impacted midrange computing. Path dependencies had a negative effect on the production of hardware and software, even though, European producers of midrange computers remained innovative and competitive for a long time. The thesis, that Europeans were no longer innovative in the IT industry, will be questioned in the project.
This article seeks to explore continuities in the governance of cross-border infrastructures from the interwar to the post-war period. It argues that transnational expert communities and cultures of standardisation emerged, which the infrastructure experts were keen to protect and persist. The article compares transport and communication to isolate common patterns and differences.
Henrich-Franke, C. (2018). Comparing Cultures of Expert Regulation: Governing Cross-Border Infrastructures. Contemporary European History, 27(2), 280–300.