Drömmar om det minsta : Mikrofilm, överflöd och brist, 1900–1970

Sammanfattning: This thesis explores the cultural history of microfilm and microphotography during the period 1900–1970, thus contributing to the broader field of research on the history of 20th century information management in the era before digital technology. The aim is to study how microfilm repeatedly, in various contexts and over time, was described and perceived as a new medium. To this end the book examines and analyses the plans, dreams and visionary prognostics put forth by various historical actors with an interest in microfilm – using case studies situated at different junctures and periods (1904–1910, 1937, 1940–1952, 1950–1970), while also ranging geographically from the United States to Europe and Sweden.From a theoretical and methodological point of view the thesis seeks to understand the historical formation of microfilm by developing the notions of configuration and reconfiguration, employing a perspective which emphasizes the continuous ontological interplay and interdependence of materiality and discourse in the formation of media. Thus, at the empirical level, the analysis takes into account realized technological materialities as well as unrealized imaginary articulations, dreams and expectations integral to the configuration of microfilm within a broader culture of paperwork. As a result of this approach the study draws on scientific texts and articles in journals, as well as newspaper reports, commercial messages, ads, handbooks and various archival documents.The analysis reveals a close relationship between microfilm and experiences of entropy connected to information systems based on paper and paperwork. It is argued that, within the dreams and plans that are studied, the most important function of microfilm was to regulate noise, decay and disorder associated with the materiality of paper – through ordering, operating on and modifying the capacities of paper media. It is also noted that microfilm was perceived and articulated as a new medium over a long period of time, even though very little changed at the technological level. From a historiographical point of view, it is thus argued, microfilm can be characterized as a simultaneously continuous and discontinuous phenomenon, taking part in a history that unfolded through repetitions, returns and non-linear steps rather than along an uninterrupted, linear path.