The Future = Now x Acceleration

The Epoch of Electronic Communication Begins

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It is easy to suggest that the modern electronic age of communication began with the explosive adoption of the Internet in the 1990s. The landscape shift was so sudden and profound for those of us who lived through it that it is hard to keep the perspective that instant electronic communication had been around for about 150 years.

Both 1960s Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan and modern tech writer and theorist Clay Shirky (whom I will talk about in more detail later in the class) both pin the dawn of the electronic age with the introduction of the electric telegraph in the early 19th century.

The electric telegraph was even predated by several decades by a French invention that revolutionized communication across Europe, Asia and the Americas – the optical telegraph. Until then, the fastest  that news and information spread was as fast as a rider on horseback could travel.

Eastern Telegraph Co. Map Mid-1800sIt’s hard to overstate the fundamental change this invention represented. The pace of life changed; the state of business transactions changed; and the expectation for what you should know and how soon you should know it changed in a short period of time.

The Lewis and Clark expedition, Voyage of Discovery, took two years. Less than 50 years later a message could travel from New York to San Francisco by telegraph in less than 15 minutes. The Pony Express Service ended almost overnight with the introduction of the transcontinental telegraph line

I have posted a podcast on Blackboard that addresses the spread of this invention. Read this blog post and then listen to the podcast. This will help shape your responses to the readings for your Blog post this week.


Written by digitalanalogues

June 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM

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