For this week’s readings, the topic was related to new technologies that surfaced in an older time period. Specifically, the chapters from Standage’s book, The Victorian Internet, discuss the invention of the telegraph, explaining some of its positive and negative effects.
While the telegraph at the time seemed like an outstanding tactic for communicating, Standage actually points out many of its failures in his readings. While the purpose of the telegraph was for North America and Europe to be able to communicate, Standage observed, “[the telegraph] was not suitable for distributing the news to large numbers of readers” (Ch. 9, pg. 149). Additionally, Standage offers the optimism associated with the telegraph for world peace: “The rapid distribution of news was thought to promote universal peace, truthfulness, and mutual understanding” (Ch. 9, pg. 163) and in actuality, world peace did not occur as a result of this technology.
The Jamieson article observes the new technologies of the radio and television, following the telegraph. Particularly, he discusses each of their effects on political campaigns and in contrast to Standage, mostly recognizes their positive influences on communicating. Specifically, Jamieson points out that the radio and television made it possible for the politicians to connect with their supporters and voters all over the country, by allowing them to listen to their speeches, policies and promises.
At the end of chapter 6, Standage writes: “Unfortunately, the social impact of the global telegraph network did not turn out to be so straightforward. Better communication does not necessarily lead to a wider understanding of other points of view; the potential of new technologies to change things for the better is invariably overstated, while the ways in which they will make things worse are usually unforeseen” (Pg. 104). Do you agree or disagree with this statement in regard to the present day Internet?