I love suggesting Ithiel de Sola Pool‘s 1983 research book “Forecasting the Telephone“ to folks interested in New Media and media futures. The beauty of the work is that it looks at what experts and others said that the telephone would do to our lives. With the advent of cell phones, we can say that the telephone is still a work in progress technically, socially and culturally which at least partially puts to question the subtitle of the book “A Retrospective Technology Assessment of the Telephone”. Still there is much the be learned therein.
The folks at Elon University and the Pew Center for Internet and American Life started earlier in the technology cycle with a like study of Internet Predictions with their Imaging the Internet – Predictions Database.
The database project is more than a database; it provides access to a great collection of references to early and mid-1990s books, articles and personalites. I haven’t read the book that came from this project, “Imagining the Internet : Personalities, Predictions, Perspectives” by Janna Quitney Anderson the director of the project which came out in paper this summer, but I plan to.
I also like and dislike Carolyn Marvin’s When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communications in the Late 19th Century for various reasons to complicated to go into here. Interestingly enough the Marvin book is offered as a package with the Anderson book at Amazon.