to avoid address abuse, please type it yourself

The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see, so Winston Churchill used to say, paraphrasing the old historia est magistra vitae. We all know that but looking back and forward with understanding (and here comes Churchillís "you can look" and "you are likely to see") we donít do well, not all of us. Tom Standage does it well. He studied engineering and computer science at Oxford University, has covered science and technology for a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Wired and Prospect, and is now business editor at The Economist. He takes a particular interest in the social and cultural impact of technology and is the author of four books in that line: A History of the World in Six Glasses (2005), The Mechanical Turk (2002), The Neptune File (2000) and The Victorian Internet (1998).

Maybe you were amused by The Victorian Internet: The remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers. I was not aware of the book, but Standageís article on telephone-Internet analogy in The Economist caught my attention; notice that the article was written in October of 2001, six years ago, and six Internet years is a long time period.

(By the way, did I mention that The Economist is beyond question the best English-language weekly magazine?)

the external appearance of the No.4 exchange board (Bell Co.)

The telegraph, like the Internet ... transformed social and business practices, but it could be used only by skilled operators. Its benefits became available to the public at large only when the telegraph evolved into the telephone - initially known as the "speaking telegraph". The Internet is still in a telegraphic stage of development, in the sense that the complexity and expense of PCs prevent many people from using it. The mobile phone thus promises to do for the Internet what the telephone did for the telegraph: to make it a truly mainstream technology.

Because it used the same wires, the telephone was originally seen as merely a speaking telegraph, but it turned out to be something entirely new. The same mistake is already being repeated with the Internet. Many people expect the mobile Internet to be the same as the wired version, only mobile, but they are wrong... Instead, the mobile Internet, although it is based on the same technology as the fixed-line Internet, will be something different and will be used in new and unexpected ways.

Tom Standage: The Internet, untethered, in The Economist, 11 October 2001.

Fig.1 of Subscribers' station equipment, Part 2, in Practical Telephony, International Textbook Company, Scranton, PA, 1916.

 2007-12-23 

2007-12-16
2007-12-09
2007-12-02
2007-11-25
2007-11-18
2007-11-11
2007-11-04
2007-10-28
2007-10-21
2007-10-14
2007-10-07
2007-09-30
2007-09-23
2007-09-16
2007-09-09
2007-09-02
2007-08-26
2007-08-19
2007-08-12
2007-08-05
2007-07-29
2007-07-22
2007-07-15
2007-07-08
2007-07-01
2007-06-24
2007-06-17
2007-06-10
2007-06-03

 

previous

 

WEBSITE  EDITOR:
Krešimir J. Adamić