Media history offers an essential but easily overlooked set of tools for understanding scientific facts as historical processes. This essay argues that the “when” of the specific media through which scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, and taken up as authoritative has played a central part in the “how,” “what,” and “why” of scientific fact-making as well as our iterative attempts to historicize science, medicine, and technology. Attending explicitly to how new (and old) media engage in the production, circulation, and consumption of knowledge can further help the historian understand dilations and contractions in the threshold of participation in scientific fact-making itself. Manuscripts, printing presses, cheap newsprint, and open-source digital publications open up and shut down possibilities of who gets to learn about science as news, who gets to act as a nodal point in the circulation of scientific knowledge, and who is able to make and share an observation about the natural world in the first place. Centering the media of scientific knowledge-in-the-making offers a means of relating the history of science to the broader history of knowledge not in terms of absolute difference but in terms of the specificity of mediation.
Greene, J. A. (2020). KNOWLEDGE IN MEDIAS RES: TOWARD A MEDIA HISTORY OF SCIENCE, MEDICINE, AND TECHNOLOGY. History and Theory, 59(4), 48–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/hith.12181