New network, same issues?

When the first transatlantic cable was laid down in 1866 the world’s means of communications changed forever. Where sending messages across seas once would have taken 10 days and required material transports, the Atlantic cable allowed people to send and receive messages within minutes through electricity. The telegraph removed the walls of distance between societies and the world reemerged as an apparent unified globe (Mitew, 2014).

Global empires saw themselves as the brains of this new global body and the wires and cables of the telegraph enabled them to control and extract information from their “distant limbs and members” (The NY Tribune). This imperialistic view defined the way the telegraph was implemented. While the telegraph generated interest in foreign news, the sources for foreign news were questionable. Transatlantic cables were laid across specific oceans and worked to tighten Europe’s hold on their colonies.

Another issue facing the inclusion of foreign news was information overload. With a constant stream of information running so fast it was even considered “too fast for the truth” (NY Times, 1858), information overload quickly became an issue. Decisions had to be made about what was worth sharing and what wasn’t (Standage, 1999). Considering we are still in the same information age we were in with the telegraph, I wonder if this imperialistic display of global networks remains today?

The internet provides a platform for users to express their perspectives, however with 31% of developing nations having access to the internet, compared to 77% in developed nations, can we really say it’s a global network? In June 2013, Google launched the project Loon to tackle these large differences in internet access between areas. It is still a relatively new project, but it would allow those in isolated and disaster areas to join the world of internet access. I am interested to see how global networks will develop as the internet does become more accessible, allowing these distant limbs and members to be part of the brain.



ITU releases latest global technology development figures . (2014). ITU releases latest global technology development figures . [ONLINE] Available at:

Loon for All – Project Loon – Google . 2014. Loon for All – Project Loon – Google . [ONLINE] Available at:

Miller, Daniel (2013) It’s time to…STOP: India says farewell to the telegram after 162 years | Mail Online. 2014. It’s time to…STOP: India says farewell to the telegram after 162 years | Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at:–STOP-India-says-farewell-telegram-162-years.html

Mitew, Ted. (2014) A Global Nervous System

Quotes derived from Mitew, Ted. (2014) A Global Nervous System

Standage, Tom 1999, The Victorian Internet : the remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth centuryʼs on-line pioneers, Berkley trade pbk. ed, Berkley Books, New York, N.Y

About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
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10 Responses to New network, same issues?

  1. Eunice Lee says:

    I could not agree more on the rather vague definition of global networks. As mentioned in your post, only a partial developing nations have access to the Internet in the 21st century. And I believed most of us would think that this communication era is on top of its game today but no, we are wrong. We just have to wait for the rest of the world to join in and we shall see what global networks truly means and what they are capable of.

  2. Zofia Zayons says:

    I liked your idea about the term global network not actually encompassing a global audience. It’d be really interesting to see this idea taken further in future blog posts by examining the implications of unequal access to the internet. I’m also really interested in this “Loon” concept. Thanks for enlightening me!

  3. mcudz17 says:

    Great question raised in your final paragraph. How global is really our global network. With countries implicating so many restrictions and censorship on their citizens internet usage, is it really living up to those cyberlibertarian tropes that Ted raised in the lecture. This will definitely be a hot topic as we move forward in our evolving digital world.

  4. ep073 says:

    You have raised some great issues regarding digital networks. I think it’s very important we remember that developing countries have limited access to the internet, for the most part. I also love that you focused on the information overload – we have SO much info at our fingertips and it’s overwhelming. The quote ‘to fast for the truth’ is very poignant. My attention did wander in the middle because it was a very formal post, so maybe a longer quote or some images to break up the content. But overall a very interesting, informative post.

  5. I really like the point you’ve made about how as a modern day society that we still have the same problems as an 1899 issue! Whilst I do agree, I think that we have advanced – slightly. Although we are still obviously going to encounter the same issues as it is still the same principle of sending and receiving information, I think that with out sophisticated networking system that, if people choose too have the option to filter and censor their news, exempting them from seeing things that they are not interested in or concerned about.

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