I have just finished leisurely reading Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century On-Line Pioneers.
Standage discusses the creation and development of the telegraph system and how it revolutionized communication in the nineteenth century. The book claims that Modern Internet users are in many ways the heirs of the telegraphic tradition, meaning that how people used the telegraph during the nineteenth century parallels how people use the Internet today.
Standage goes on to suggest that by studying how the telegraph developed and created certain trends in society, we can learn a lot about the challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls of the Internet today. From discussing the social impact of both systems with the development of online social interactions to the way that business and work was revolutionized, the book has it all!
You can laugh about how Victorians flirted and developed romantic connections over Morse code and you can marvel at the way getting more rapid information, particularly with the invention of the stock ticker, allowed financial markets to emerge and grow. If you Bloomberg slaves are looking for an educational and entertaining read, click here.