Peter Enser

Peter Enser
Society and Technology

Peter Enser is an experienced enrichment speaker whose talks reflect his fascination with the transformations in society brought about by advances in communication, information and transport technologies. Contrasting the way we live today with our practices of yesteryear provides a rich source of material for his entertaining, informative and highly illustrated presentations.

The great majority of Peter’s career was spent in Higher Education, where teaching and academic management responsibilities in Plymouth, Aberystwyth and Brighton universities were developed alongside research interests in the field of experimental information retrieval. He gained an international reputation and publication record in semantic image retrieval, in which field he directed a number of funded research projects.

Peter is a past-President of the former Institute of Information Scientists and had an involvement with other professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, the British Computer Society, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the UK Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency.

The title Professor of Information Science was conferred on him by the University of Brighton in 1999, and the title Professor Emeritus upon his retirement.


Peter’s talks take Communication as their common theme. They celebrate the ways we have adapted to technologies which have moved us forward via various empowering techniques, from scratching messages on stone towards our latest enthusiasms for instant messaging via social media.

The talks outlined below focus on social rather than technical matters, and may be variously combined into programmes of the desired size and orientation.


Getting the message: signs, symbols and senses

An introduction to the ways in which we communicate with each other, using signs to send messages which address the receiver’s sight, hearing and other senses, and symbols for the representation of more complex communications.

Post haste

An exploration of the way in which mail services evolved in the carrying of our written and printed messages, an early reliance on horse and wind power revolutionized by the harnessing of steam power, and transformed again by globe-shrinking aviation.

Down the wires

Barriers to communication posed by distance and intervening ocean crumble before wondrous advances in our ability to send messages by wire, firstly in the form of the telegraph, and then – requiring of us some new instant-communication behaviour - the telephone.

Riding the waves

This talk tells of how signals carried on radio waves, and later microwaves and light waves, brought new forms and norms of communication into our homes via radio and television receivers, and into our pockets via the mobile telephone.

Surfing the net

A celebration of the union of information and communications technologies, among the products of which the Internet, and then the World Wide Web have given us a digital horn of such plenty that our experience of information gathering and dissemination has been totally transformed.

In the picture

An appreciation of the way in which the visual image has come to play a much greater role in our present-day communications, with selfies, emoji, memes and video streaming complementing the vast image and video content available to us on the Web, and encouraging attempts to bring artificial intelligence to bear in picture processing.

Going viral

The emergence of the Social Web, and our social media-fed dependency upon it in everyday life, provides the background to an exploration of our transformed communication behaviour in the face of the new opportunities and challenges posed by instant messaging and boundless social intercourse.

Moving experiences

A light-hearted exploration of our changing experience of travel, and of the wider social impact of our enhanced mobility, as advances in transport technology transform the inconveniences, discomforts and dangers, luxuries, foibles and practices of bygone years into the travelling conventions of today.

ExpertiseSocial History of information, communication, transport technologies
Cruise Experience as Speaker/TutorRecent appointments: Saga Cruises: SA288, SA314, P2184; P&O Cruises: E601


History - Social