Writing

Books

The People's NetworkThe People’s Network: The Political Economy of the Telephone in the Gilded Age.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
The People’s Network tells the story of the telephone in the United States and Canada before the triumph of the Bell System: the rise and fall of an independent telephone movement and its forgotten struggle for a more democratic communications regime. It’s the prehistory of the fight to save net neutrality, with useful lessons for the communications revolutions of our own time.

The Wire DevilsThe Wire Devils: A Classic Mystery Novel of the American Railroad.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
I wrote the historical introduction for this splendid edition of a classic pulp adventure novel by Frank L. Packard, originally published in 1918. It’s a fast-paced game of cat and mouse between jewel thieves, train robbers, and secret agents, all played out on the rails and telegraph lines of the American West–a kind of high-tech thriller from the days when railroads and telegraphs were still “high-tech.”

Selected Articles

Zones of ControlSimulation Literacy: The Case for Wargames in the History Classroom.” In Zones of Control: Perspectives on War Gaming, edited by Pat Harrigan and Matthew Kirschenbaum, 447-455. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. With Lisa Faden.

Mapping Communication.” In Mapping Movement in American History and Culture, edited by James Akerman and Peter Nekola. Chicago: Newberry Library, 2016.

PastplayTecumseh Lies Here: Goals and Challenges for a Pervasive History Game in Progress.” In Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology, edited by Kevin Kee, 87-108. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014. With Timothy Compeau.

New Old Things: Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Experiment in Historical Practice,” Canadian Journal of Communication 37 (2012): 121-128. With Devon Elliott and William J. Turkel.

Convention of Cranks: Why the Nineteenth Century’s Golden Age of Pseudoscience May Be a Precursor of Our Own,” Scope 2 (2011): 10-21.

Towards a Transnational Political History of North America: The View from Canada,” Nuevo Mundo / Mundos Nuevos (2010).

Long Lines: AT&T’s Long-Distance Network as an Organizational and Political Strategy.” Business History Review 80 (2006): 297-327.

The Wire Devils: Pulp Thrillers, the Telephone, and Action at a Distance in the Wiring of a Nation.” American Quarterly 57 (2006): 715-741. Reprinted in Rewiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies, edited by Carolyn de la Peña and Siva Vaidhyanathan, 161-188. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

“The All-Red Dream: Technological Nationalism and the Trans-Canada Telephone System.” In Canadas of the Mind: The Making and Unmaking of Canadian Nationalisms in the Twentieth Century, edited by Adam Chapnick and Norman Hillmer, 46-62. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.

The Telephone on Main Street: Utility Regulation in the United States and Canada before 1900.” Business and Economic History Online 4 (2006).

The People’s Telephone: The Politics of Telephony in the United States and Canada.” Enterprise and Society 6 (2005): 581-587.