The Mobile Telephony article was interesting. The idea about the ideal communication utopia got me thinking about how we communicate today. I would consider the Internet to be this utopia. But I wonder if people still are not satisfied by it. I am amazed by what the Internet can do. It is a television, radio, phone call, and even video call. I couldn't imagine what would come next. That makes me curious to know if anyone has any ideas of how to improve it to fulfill our utopian ideal. I found the ideal of this utopia interesting, because I had never thought of communication technologies like that. However, I'm not a huge theory person, so the article was hard for me to get through. The telephone in America was also a cool piece, because we got to see truly how far we've come. One thing that struck me as funny was the use of the operator. When the telephone was first invented, all calls had to be connected through an operator. But while reading this article, I remembered that my brothers and I used to dial "0" and play jokes on the operator. I'm not really sure what it was used for when I was younger, actually, but I wonder how many children did that when the telephone was first invented.
Each of the readings regarding the telephone/telegraph did a good job providing background information, history, and insight into societal perception of the innovations. I found Imar de Vries’ “Mobile Telephony…” to be most interesting. The idea that we strive for our communication mediums to bring us closer to communicating like angels and to “attempt to cover a human lack” (11, quoting Peters, 1999) wasn’t something I ever considered, but it makes sense to me now. I appreciated the overview of how each medium (the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television) evolved to lead to mobile telephony.
I do think that mobile technologies have created the possibility for there to be an “ideal medium” for communication, at least more so than older, wired technologies. However, I also think we need to use caution when assuming that any medium will somehow fulfill all of our needs. What is most important is not the medium, but the people using it.
What I found really surprising from the Claude Fischer reading, was that at first, the telephone was seen as a novelty. Since I find telephone such an inseparable part of both personal and business life, it seemed weird that it was seen more as a means of entertainment or wonder (an example is "Prof. Bell's Singing and Speaking Microphone). Along these same lines, I found it shocking that they had to invent ways for their technology to be used. Previous to reading this I thought people might automatically see the telephone as basically the telegraph, but better. I found some of the ways of use really interesting such as delivering sermons and broadcasting news. It makes me wonder: if these uses had become a fundamental part of telephone usage, would the telephone's technological pattern of growth have been greatly altered to fit these uses? Would the telephone still look the same as it does today?
Working for a VoIP (Voice over IP) company, these articles provided many relate-able examples, specifically Standage's and Fisher's articles. These articles were extremely informative due to the fact that there is a large revolution in the way phone conversations are starting to be transmitted, ie. over the internet (or digitally) versus across various types of analog lines. This revolution is mainly taking place with business communication at the moment, but there are residential providers as well, such as Comcast, Century Link, Vondage, and many others. The main market growth at the moment, though, is in businesses. The call quality of VoIP phones is also far superior to POTS (plain old telephone service) lines and there is far greater functionality, as it is possible to add various types of software to the phone itself. At the moment, like in both articles, there has been a large boom in small VoIP providers to server rural businesses while the larger companies have focus there infrastructure to the larger cities. While I don't think that the VoIP revolution will be as monumental as the other communication revolutions of the past, I think it is interesting to notice the similarities of the adaptations of new technologies and how it always trends to businesses adopting them first, then consumers.
I found these articles to be really interesting, particularly “Telegraphy the Victorian Internet.” I thought it was interesting how before the telegraph line was built across the coasts, the only way to communicate across America from east to west was the Pony Express. Since this was a mail delivery that used relay teams of horses to deliver letters and information, it took days for people to receive information. Thinking about these older experiences, I never realized just how fortunate we are to have telephones for quick communication. Telephones allow us to call anyone we want across the country, even the world, with simple clicks of some buttons and a few seconds for a connection. I have a brother who lives out in California, and I rely on a telephone to be able to keep in contact with him at any time of day. If the pony express were still around, it would be stressful to try to communicate with him over a period of days.
I enjoyed reading about all of the mix-ups that came with using the telegraph for the first time for most people. It sounds like the growth was fast and relatively unexplained in function to most people—or perhaps it was explained, but simply unable to be understood by the average user in that day. I also thought it was interesting to read about the influences that the telegraph had upon how language is used. Although Standage talked about the telegram being like instant messaging today, I saw it as more relatable to text messaging—new (aka old) adaptors of text messaging think that it’s the same thing as email or they don’t understand simply abbreviations, or they create their own overly-intricate abbreviations for out of date phrases. Overall, I found it refreshing that although the technologies we use are more advanced today, we are going through some of the same humorous obstacles that people adapting to early technologies also overcame.
What grabbed my attention was the misunderstanding of how this new technology worked. What intrigues me about this is that this desire to understand how new technologies work seem to be of lesser importance. When a new technology emerges, the common individual doesn't even want to attempt to understand the complexity of the technology. What does this really mean though? Are we becoming lazy? Are we overly accepting of all that is occurring around us and the effects that these technologies may have on us? Or have we just moved past the need to understand how the technology functions, and simply moved to wanting to understand how it will serve us?
For this week's readings, I enjoyed reading the mobile telephony article the most. The communication we share and receive on mobile devices is no doubt innovative and a product of how much the media has evolved. We can do everything from our phones now, heck, the President could probably run the country on his iPhone. I believe there will be many more advances and innovations to come for mobile devices. Since the 1920s, new media has continued to be innovated and integrated into our culture. Because our lives are so intertwined with technology now, some say we might live in a cyber-uptopian society. This means that we see only the benefits of technology and all it can do, the one thing that can solve all our problems or could never harm us. However, the article lightly touches on this subject, and the fact that we should be cautious of living in a cyber-uptopian world and make sure we can both reap the benefits of technology, but also caution against the repercussions.
The Victorian Internet article I found both enlightening and humorous. Enlightening because I never realized the speed at which the telegraph took the United States by storm, with a 600 fold increase in size in 6 years. This reminded me most of the phenomenon that some refer to as Eternal September, relating to the internet, in which AOL brought in an incredible number of new users onto the internet, flooding the old Usenet users. Though the term isn't one of endearment, in fact it is the opposite, it has parallels with the boom experienced by the telegraph. It connected cities, then states, then whole countries.
What I found humorous in the article were the abbreviations used by those in the communications rooms, reminding me heavily of text-speak today. Their 1 "wait a moment" being similar to our BRB. It is an astounding technology and shows how even through mediums, we still share many similarities with our ancestors. It even has the number of people who misunderstand how the technology works, with their sending papers through tubes at high speeds to our 'Series of Tubes'.
The idea of the telephone has always fascinated me. It’s the concept that I can talk into a device and, through the power of electricity and electromagnetism, my voice comes out of another device, sounding exactly the same so that another person can hear me and understand what I’m saying, even though we may be hundreds of miles apart. It’s a mind-blowing technology when you stop and think about it, that we take for granted so much today. Today even more, it’s amazing that this is possible with no cords directly connecting me and the other person. It’s just air between us, as we communicate via radio waves. I can take my phone everywhere and, in addition to making phone calls, am able to do hundreds of other tasks on a smartphone device. Phones are so mobile. It’s changed our lives. For Easter this weekend, I was sitting around the dinner table with my cousins and every one of them, the six that were there, were staring at their phones surfing the Internet, oblivious to the rest of the room. We are always connected to the rest of the world, always seeing, watching, reporting, I had never realized, until I took a class earlier in college, that the company that Bell formed later became known as AT&T, still a major player in the telephone industry today, and that for a time they held a monopoly on the market. I’ve also always thought it was funny how mobile phones were first introduced into cars, promoting people to use the phone while they drive, something considered highly distracting and dangerous today. I wrote a paper about this topic last semester. It’s strange how those cultures changed, and how people still use phones and drive today.
I enjoyed the essay by Standage, if only for the innumerable misconceptions that were had by folks of the time about the telegraph. I can imagine it being a large change in communication, but to think that objects could travel through it is comical. It was a big shift at the time, though since previously all communication had to performed in a physical manner. A boat, a pigeon, a carriage, in person, by letter were all ways that required a slightly truer interaction.
I liked that De Vries stressed the fact that the telephone was a precursor to the global communication network. I also liked the idea of the television as a "videophone".
The history of Bell, a great monopoly, is not entirely surprising, as the technology was so revolutionary and the service had no competition. They were just attempting to get as much money out of the invention and service as they could. As soon as their major patents ran out though, the country was littered with phone providers. I liked the thought of party-lines, as my dad has always told me about listening on other conversations.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on March 31, 2013 7:06 AM.
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