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Denying Destiny: Viewtron and the refusal to recognize mutual shaping of technology
Unformatted Document Text:  Viewtron and Mutual Shaping of Technology newspapers against the electronic threat.  Given that mindset, it is not surprising that internal  documents, trade magazine analysis and newspaper stories pay much more attention to the DI  frame than to SST. The failure of K­R to respond to how people were actually using their product suggests  that corporations in the dissemination of information business work from a diffusion perspective  and have a difficult time seeing things in terms of how they are socially shaped, even when they  believe they are examining user tastes. The question is always: Are we giving people what they  want? It is rarely: Are we giving people the ability to decide how they want to use this?  The New York Times approached the project with the pioneer frame in mind. DI was  foremost in its discussion of Viewtron, and with E & P, DI was equally important. For the trade  magazine, the key frames were the "wow" factor and the threat frame. The publication seemed as  excited about the failure of the project as it did about its beginning. Both publications viewed  users in terms of numbers and rarely quoted actual customers. Bulletin board contributors were  held at arm's length when they tried to converse. In the rare case where individuals' innovative  uses were recorded, they were derided, and the picture of a dystopia without newspapers was  painted. Internal documents show that K­R had the opportunity to affect electronic media and  perhaps to prevent the decline of newspapers now realized.  They chose instead to play defense  and remained unprepared for the time when the malleable Internet took hold. References  31

Authors: Poepsel, Mark. and Ashley, Seth.
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Viewtron and Mutual Shaping of Technology
newspapers against the electronic threat.  Given that mindset, it is not surprising that internal 
documents, trade magazine analysis and newspaper stories pay much more attention to the DI 
frame than to SST.
The failure of K­R to respond to how people were actually using their product suggests 
that corporations in the dissemination of information business work from a diffusion perspective 
and have a difficult time seeing things in terms of how they are socially shaped, even when they 
believe they are examining user tastes. The question is always: Are we giving people what they 
want? It is rarely: Are we giving people the ability to decide how they want to use this? 
The New York Times approached the project with the pioneer frame in mind. DI was 
foremost in its discussion of Viewtron, and with E & P, DI was equally important. For the trade 
magazine, the key frames were the "wow" factor and the threat frame. The publication seemed as 
excited about the failure of the project as it did about its beginning. Both publications viewed 
users in terms of numbers and rarely quoted actual customers. Bulletin board contributors were 
held at arm's length when they tried to converse. In the rare case where individuals' innovative 
uses were recorded, they were derided, and the picture of a dystopia without newspapers was 
painted. Internal documents show that K­R had the opportunity to affect electronic media and 
perhaps to prevent the decline of newspapers now realized.  They chose instead to play defense 
and remained unprepared for the time when the malleable Internet took hold.
References 
31


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