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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Postcards

The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Social Network

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Postcards

The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Social Network

A global exploration of postcards as artifacts at the intersection of history, science, technology, art, and culture.
 
Postcards are usually associated with banal holiday pleasantries, but they are made possible by sophisticated industries and institutions, from printers to postal services. When they were invented, postcards established what is now taken for granted in modern times: the ability to send and receive messages around the world easily and inexpensively. Fundamentally they are about creating personal connections—links between people, places, and beliefs. Lydia Pyne examines postcards on a global scale, to understand them as artifacts that are at the intersection of history, science, technology, art, and culture. In doing so, she shows how postcards were the first global social network and also, here in the twenty-first century, how postcards are not yet extinct.

256 pages | 80 color plates, 30 halftones | 6 3/4 x 8 3/4

History: General History


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Reviews

“In this beautifully illustrated, breezily articulated book, Pyne introduces us to an analog antecedent to today’s tweets, texts, and memes: the postcard. Condensed within this compact carrier of pithy messages, Pyne demonstrates, are histories of the postal service, printing technologies, and portraiture of the quotidian—as well as humanity’s enduring desire for palpable connection.”

Shannon Mattern, professor of anthropology at the New School for Social Research, and author of "Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media"

"Pyne’s Postcards expertly tells the story of how this small piece of mail went from saving the US Post Office to being the foundations of our image-based social media platforms. This must-read book is a deeply researched chronicle of how we keep in touch, simultaneously invoking a rich sense of nostalgia while giving readers a meaningful framework for our contemporary moment."

Jason Farman

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