Abstract - The Information Society 22(2)

Xerox Project: Photocopy Machines as a Metaphor for an “Open Society”

Endre Dányi

This paper shows how various meanings of a new communication technology are born or get transformed when placed in a different political context via a case study of a program organized by the Soros Foundation in 1984 to promote democratic values (the idea of an ‘open society’) in Hungary. This program, called the Xerox project, helped hundreds of public institutions acquire photocopy machines. Under the suppressive Hungarian regime of the 1980s the appearance of photocopy machines as a new means of copying texts had serious political consequences. By means of historical research and expert interviews this paper analyses the nature of these consequences and examines how certain meanings and uses of photocopy machines evolved in the latter half of the 1980s.


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