Week 3 - The Victorian Internet

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How Revolutionary is IT ?

The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers- Tom Standage, 1998

The Telegraph: How Innovation caused Social Change - Annteresa Lubrano,1997

Presentation by: Ravishankar (Student at IIIT-Bangalore)
Subject: Economics and Social Impacts of IT

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
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Week 3 - The Victorian Internet

  1. 1. The Telegraph: How Innovation caused Social Change - Annteresa Lubrano,1997 Week 3: How revolutionary is IT ? The Victorian Internet : The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers - Tom Standage, 1998 Insights from Presentation By: Ravishankar (Student @ IIIT-B) Subject: Economics and Social Impacts of IT
  2. 2. The Telegraph Story <ul><li>Origin </li></ul><ul><li>The need for communication </li></ul><ul><li>The invention and refinements </li></ul><ul><li>Diffusion </li></ul><ul><li>into society, culture, literature.... </li></ul><ul><li>Impact </li></ul><ul><li> on government, transport and business </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  3. 3. ORIGIN: <ul><li>Motivation: </li></ul><ul><li> -16 th century rumour on sympathetic needles </li></ul><ul><li> -Jean Nollet’s experiment in 1746 </li></ul><ul><li> -1753- C.M (anonymous) proposed an electric telegraph </li></ul><ul><li> -Claude Chappe’s optical telegraph in 1791 </li></ul><ul><li> -George Murray’s shutter telegraph in 1793 </li></ul><ul><li> -1816-Francis Ronald’s first woking electric model </li></ul><ul><li>Further innovation: </li></ul><ul><li>-Early 1800s- batteries, electromagnetism, galvanometer </li></ul><ul><li>-1830s- Cooke’s 3 and 5 needle telegraphs in England and Morse’s telegraph in Washington </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  4. 4. DIFFUSION: <ul><li>Prototyping =easy ; People =difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Initially regarded as black magic </li></ul><ul><li>1840s –First line from Washington to Baltimore with funds from the congress </li></ul><ul><li>1850s-Gradually expansions (intra-continent) as it gained acceptance into the society.Hailed as the modern invention of science. </li></ul><ul><li>Too much traffic  Steam powered pneumatic tubes </li></ul><ul><li>Undersea telegraphy- London to Paris, 1852 </li></ul><ul><li>Exploring Trans-atlantic telegraph- 4 failures later, America finally connected with Europe in Aug. 1858- BUT ONLY FOR A MONTH ! </li></ul><ul><li>1866- Permanent link re-establised under able guidance of William Thompson </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  5. 5. DIFFUSION: <ul><li>Telgraph and the common man : </li></ul><ul><li>The good side: </li></ul><ul><li>New employment avenues -->skilled jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Technology Feminization (Ms.Sara Bagley,1846) </li></ul><ul><li>Social Networking –chatting, playing games, love affairs, online weddings </li></ul><ul><li>Manuals and pamplets and literature published on telegraphy-words like semaphore, teletype, telegraphery (an office) enter vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>The bad side: </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers and cryptoanalysts: bank frauds, horse racing,stock price </li></ul><ul><li>Int’l Telegraph Union (ITU) formed in 1865- futile regulatory measures </li></ul><ul><li>Information overload </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  6. 6. IMPACT: <ul><li>Government and Telegraphy: </li></ul><ul><li>Initially sceptic about the technology </li></ul><ul><li>French: Primarily a defense aid </li></ul><ul><li>British: integrated into the postal service after the technolgy matured </li></ul><ul><li>America: Predominantly a private enterprise dominated by Western Union </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation : </li></ul><ul><li>Formed a partnership with the railway industry- fostered monopoly in a sense, especially in Britain </li></ul><ul><li>1851-Pony Express closed due to the Transcontinental line from New York to California </li></ul><ul><li>Railway telegraph invented in 1887 by Granville Woods </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  7. 7. IMPACT: <ul><li>Business </li></ul><ul><li>Telegraph gave birth to the pneumatic tube industy-which later proved a cheaper way to communicate locally. </li></ul><ul><li>Merchants started living in the fast lane- Quality and price more important than geographical proximity </li></ul><ul><li>1872-Western Union monopolises controls of 80% of telegraph traffic- makes huge profits and sets a modern business model </li></ul><ul><li>Stock Tickers redefine the way the stock prices were transmitted </li></ul><ul><li>Telegraph and the press: </li></ul><ul><li>One of the key drivers of news paper industry. </li></ul><ul><li>International coverage, feeling of belonging to a global community </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  8. 8. IMPACT: <ul><li>Gave rise to a new industry of info-sellers ->The Assoicated Press of New York and Reuters in Europe- synonymous even today ! </li></ul><ul><li>1870s- The stage is set for the Victorian Internet- telegraph, submarine cables, pneumatic tubes and messengers. </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  9. 9. The vicious cycle ends (or does it ?) Economic and Social Impacts of I.T. <ul><li>1870s- Telegraph is glorified.Improved features like quadruplex transmissions gave more for less. </li></ul><ul><li>Automatic / Harmonic telegraph systems makes skilled operators redundant.Wages are cut. Becomes a semi-skilled worker’s profession </li></ul><ul><li>1876- Alexander Bell patents the telephone.Instant hit. </li></ul><ul><li>30,000 telehones world wide by end of 1880. </li></ul><ul><li>1900s-The telegraph is dead,long live telegraph ! </li></ul>
  10. 10. Issues raised: <ul><li>Is the internet really the fore runner in bridging the geographic divide ? </li></ul><ul><li>CAN we bridge the divide at all ? </li></ul><ul><li>Under what social context does technolgy become successful ? </li></ul><ul><li>Is success permanent or does it fall prey to the very nature of humans dealing with it ? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you regulate technology ? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think internet has an end ? </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.
  11. 11. <ul><li>THANK YOU </li></ul>Economic and Social Impacts of I.T.

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