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: http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2013/05.aspx#.U-mimY2SwlN
Loon for All – Project Loon – Google . 2014. Loon for All – Project Loon – Google . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.google.com/loon/
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:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2360258/Its-time–STOP-India-says-farewell-telegram-162-years.html
Mitew, Ted. (2014) A Global Nervous System https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5oAlHZMgX8&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=3
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