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The Victorian Internet

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Provides a close reading of chapters 5-6 and 8-12 of The Victorian Internet, written by Tom Standage in 1998. …

Provides a close reading of chapters 5-6 and 8-12 of The Victorian Internet, written by Tom Standage in 1998.

Historical outline provided and critical questions are raised regarding the social, cultural, technical and economic affects of the electrical impulse within these new technologies.

Published in: Technology

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  • 1. The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage, 1998 Week 6: Dreams of Love, Democracy and Liberation Calle Knight, Sophia Jackson & Sarah Gonzalez
  • 2. Chapter 5: Wiring the World The Trans-Atlantic Telegraph • Largely considered a foolish undertaking • Became a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort • Atlantic Telegraph Company – Three attempts at laying a cable • August 5th – September 1st 1859 • June 24th – August 2nd 1865 • July 13th 1866 • Success led to massive hysteria and early technological utopianism
  • 3. Question to discuss: How does the excitement around the success of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph appear similar or different from the technological utopianism experienced at the advent and popularization of the Internet? How would you suggest we break this cycle of McLuhan-esque thought that “the medium is the message,” and therefore, what we communicate falls second to the means by which we communicate?
  • 4. Chapter 6: Steam-Powered Messages “Just as today’s email systems are still plagued by occasional blackouts and failures, the telegraph networks of the 1850s were subject to congestion as the volume of traffic mushroomed, and key network links within major cities became overloaded.” (Standage 92)
  • 5. Sources: edubuzz.org / learnmorsecode.com 1. Write a sentence in English, pass to the left. 2. Translate the sentence into Morse Code, pass to the left. 3. Translate the sentence back to English and deliver it to the recipient.
  • 6. Threats to Telegraphic Expansion • Unaffordable • Near-constant congestion “…gave the impression that the telegraph system was merely a more glorified and far more expensive postal service.” (Standage 94) Sources: Capsu.org / Wikipedia
  • 7. The Victorian Internet Takes Shape “A patchwork of telegraphic networks, submarine cables, pneumatic tube systems, and messengers combines to deliver messages within hours over a vast area of the globe.” (Standage 101)
  • 8. Question to discuss: The late 1860s saw a growth in telegraph technology industries such as submarine cable manufacturers and the expansion of transmission centers, as everyone was rushing to enter into the most profitable new market. How does this compare to the Dot Com Boom and subsequent Crash of the 1990s and 2000s?
  • 9. Chapter 8: Love over the Wires “Despite the strange customs and the often curious lifestyle of many operators, telegraphy was regarded as an attractive profession, offering the hope of rapid social advancement and fueling expansion of the middle class.” (Standage 143)
  • 10. The Search for Companionship Through Telegraph Technology • Operators form the first online community • As the community grew, the search for a companion or partner became pervasive Question to Discuss: In what ways is the online community of the Nineteenth Century similar to the online community of the TwentyFirst Century? Like the telegraph operators who used the technology to date and play games, do people currently utilize their work time to connect with other workers through the web?
  • 11. Question to Discuss How does meritocracy apply to our capitalist society today?
  • 12. Chapter 9: War & Peace in the Global Village News Coverage Over the Victorian Internet • The telegraph helped report news within hours of it’s occurrence • First international news coverage conducted by Reuter • “Cable nipped misunderstanding leading to war in the bud” (Standage 159) – Crimean War
  • 13. Question to Discuss As a predecessor of the 24/7 news stations we experience in the Twenty-First Century, the introduction of instantaneous global news coverage was revolutionary in the Nineteenth Century. In what ways did it positively and negatively affect their society? Does the constant barrage of news we experience today do the same for our society?
  • 14. Chapter 10 Information Overload
  • 15. Chapter 10: Information Overload The Telegraph’s Impact on Nineteenth Century Business • Increased knowledge of the competition accelerated the pace of business life. • Telegraph as public utility in Europe • “Telegraph lives upon commerce. It is the nervous system of the commercial system.” (Standage 170) • Telegraphic addresses in Britain • The Gold Room
  • 16. Callahan’s Stock Ticker: “The sound could drive a man suddenly to the verge of insanity with joy or despair.” (Standage 176) Question to Discuss – The Stock Ticker got its name from the constant sound it makes when it reports the gold prices. Do you think that the way workers were affected by this ticking sound is the same way we are addicted to and affected by our devices and the sounds they make?
  • 17. Chapter 11: Decline & Fall Morse telegraph and key Samuel Morse, 1847 June 10, 1871: “The telegraph and its inventor were praised for uniting the peoples of the world, promoting world peace, and revolutionizing commerce” (Standage, 186). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 11: Decline & Fall." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Centuryʼs On-line Pioneers. New York: Walker and, 1998. 186. Print.
  • 18. Automatic Telegraphy Printing telegraph David Hughes, 1855 Duplex telegraph Joseph B. Stearns, 1872 Wheatstone’s ABC telegraph Charles Wheatstone, 1858 Baudot telegraph Jean Maurice Emile Baudot, 1874 Wheatstone’s Automatic telegraph Charles Wheatstone, 1858 Quaduplex telegraph Thomas Edison, 1874
  • 19. Harmonic Telegraphy Harmonic telegraph sketches Alexander Graham Bell, 1867 Harmonic telegraph Alexander Graham Bell, 1867 “All other telegraphic machines produce signals which require to be translated by experts, and such instruments are therefore extremely limited in their application. But the telephone actually speaks” (Standage, 197-198). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 11: Decline & Fall." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Centuryʼs On-line Pioneers. New York:
  • 20. Telephonic and Electric Technologies Telegraph Office in Library of Congress Washington D.C. , 1904 MIT Digital Computer Laboratory, 1950 “By this time, many telegraphers were complaining that they had been reduced to mere machines, while others decried the declining quality of those entering their profession” (Standage,200). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 11: Decline and Fall." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Centuryʼs On-line
  • 21. Chapter 12: The Legacy of the Telegraph Harmonic telegraph Alexander Graham Bell, 1867 “In 1886, ten years after its invention, there were over a quarter of a million telephones in use worldwide” (Standage,204). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 12: The Legacy of the Telegraph." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth
  • 22. Chapter 12: The Legacy of the Telegraph Harmonic telegraph Alexander Graham Bell, 1867 How have the evolution of these electrical on-line technologies impacted modern social, technical and economic networks? Both in the workplace and and within society? “In 1886, ten years after its invention, there were over a quarter of a million telephones in use worldwide” (Standage,204). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 12: The Legacy of the Telegraph." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth
  • 23. Electric Networks & Communication International Cables Map, George A. Schreiner International Telegraph Bureau, 1924 Global Traffic Map Callhost International, 2010 “Ironically, it is the internet– despite being regarded as a quintessentially modern means of communication– that has the most in common with its telegraphic ancestor” (Standage,205). Standage, Tom. "Chapter 12: The Legacy of the Telegraph." The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth
  • 24. Challenge of Change Challenge of Change, Seeing the Digital Future AT&T Archives, 1961 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avHo0-qU8xo Recall McLuhan’s reference to the central nervous system; in what ways does recurring skepticism of information overload and impulses for technological utopianism overlap throughout the development of new technologies?
  • 25. Stay in the loop! http://www.slideshare.net/gonzs882/the-victorian-internet