Hearing the latest (technology)

very new technology has a learning curve.  There is always that time where people say “I’ll never” or  “that won’t catch on”.   This dates back to story telling, the printing press to Sterne’s topic– the electric telegraph,  and Grodal’s which brings it into the 21st century with video games, tv and movies.   It makes perfect sense that with each new technology we learn anew to use our senses. 

Sterne talks about early telegraph operators eschewing the tape in favor of listening to the dots and dashes.  These operators learned early that it is easier to hear the language of Morse code than it is to see it. 

Sterne calls the theory of telegraphy “nascent cybernetics.  This is no surprise since cybernetics itself was a communication theory developed on the basis of technical issues in the communication network that replaced telegraphy in the United States, the telephone” (p. 143). 

Another, somewhat unrelated example:  a class of fifth graders were given calculators in a math class.  Each child began using the calculator not by putting it down on the table and punching one button at a time, but by holding it as they would a cell phone and inputting number with their thumbs.  Those children learned to use a new technology, and applied it to an older one. 

We saw in this election year what it meant to politics, as the Obama camp conducted the first successful YouTube/Facebook/MySpace/Twitter campaign for the presidency.  People have embraced this new technology, particularly young people, and the campaign used it brilliantly to create a sense of inclusion. 

On a completely unrelated note, I was very interested in Sterne’s description of early “telegraphic weddings”  where women would marry men they’d never met over the telegraph wire.  Turns out online dating was a scam back then too. 

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One Response to “Hearing the latest (technology)”

  1. Really like the example of the fifth graders using the calculators with their thumbs. It’s like a kinetic display of one way technology forces us to adapt.

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