COM250 factoids_2 - Reading#17 The Optical Telegraph by...

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Reading #17: The Optical Telegraph by Daniel Headrick Factoids Thinking Points 1: It was the demand for rapid communications that created the telecommunications systems, not the other way around. 1: This statement reminds me of one of the first things I learned in this course – there is an essential negotiation between technology and our communicative needs that is always the same. This statement seems obvious, rather than some chicken or the egg dilemma, but realizing it helps to understand the course of evolution of telecommunication systems. 2: The telegraph appeared at the same time that revolutionaries were restructuring the national territory into equal departments, imposing a homogeneous system of weights and measures, and reorganizing time itself through a new calendar. The same mentalité led them to seek a rational solution to the problem of communicating at a distance. The optical telegraph was not only a response to war but also a child of the Age of Reason. 2: Besides announcing the birth of the king’s first child, I wonder what sorts of messages were sent and how complex they typically were. 3: “…The telegraph shortens distances and, in a way, brings an immense population together at a single point.” […] “By this definition, distances vanish…this is a means to consolidate the unity of the Republic.” 3: The train also shortened distances in the same respect as the telegraph, and as telecommunications advanced, the world got even smaller. I find that whole aspect very interesting; especially when I consider being able to know news almost as it happens and expecting nothing less; as opposed to finding out about news weeks or months after-the-fact and feeling content with that speed as well.
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Reading #18: Telegraphy – The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage Factoids Thinking Points 1: The telegraph moved west with the railways, utilizing the railroad right of way and quickly becoming an essential information system both for coordinating rail traffic and for managing the flow of goods and services. 1: The telegraph, like the computer, was first marketed as a tool for business. It seems that telecommunication inventions, no matter how revolutionary, are introduced in the business and corporate realm of society and slowly trickle down to the average citizen as new uses are realized. 2: By 1848, about half of the country’s railway tracks had telegraph wires running alongside them. By 1850, there were 2,215 miles of wire in Britain, but it was the following year that things really took off. 2: If wiring was so essential to the telegraph, and railroad companies had to be involved in the national wiring of the system, then what did ships use to communicate with each other and with their men on land?
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