“The Victorian Internet” the Book by Tom Standage
The issue of the Internet and modern mass media has always been very important since the time when the Internet appeared as a means of communication, conveying information and messages all around the world. In this essay, I am going to consider this issue in respect of the arguments given by Tom Standage in his rather informative and interesting book “The Victorian Internet”. I am going to consider the author’s main argument in respect of the Internet and telegraph as its predecessor, and compare them to my personal experience in order to express my own point of view based on my personal experience.
Standage’s book tells a story about the emergence of the telegraph which is paralleled to the modern World Wide Web, or the Internet. The main argument of the author is that the essence of telegraph is the same as of the Internet with the only difference being that the Internet is able to operate at higher speed due to the further development of technology and science.
The examples given in the book tend to prove that the author is right in his idea, as far as Standage illustrates his opinion with the events from the early history of the telegraph starting from one 18th century experiment carried out by a French monk and goes through the 19th century till the moment when Morse invented numerous signal systems and Alexander Bell managed to construct the first telephone that could operate for over 300 hours.
This all seemed quite alike the modern Internet as it allowed transmitting messages to long distances and communication between people in different cities and even countries. Thus, the main argument by Tom Standage is rather convincing, but from my personal experience I can state certain drawbacks of this opinion.
To my mind, the telegraph can not be treated as a predecessor of the Internet due to the number of reasons. First of all, if the telegraph is a means of conveying information and messages for communication between people or organizations, the Internet, as the Committee to Protect Journalists admits, serves other purposes other than the one of interpersonal and international communication. Internet is the source of information about almost any thing or phenomenon in the world. One can find the information about the object of his or her interest, whether it is music or history, without a need to ask anybody.
This is the main difference between the web and the telegraph, as the former can be a single-sided process, while the letter presupposes the obligatory presence of two sides of the communication process. Besides, nowadays the Internet is the means of the distance study that allow many foreigners to study in the countries where they can not afford to go because of financial problems. The telegraph had no such a function, and this is the second reason why we can not say that the Internet derived from it.
Another point, which can be found in the reputable media site News24.com as well, is that the Internet is the place where people can share their thoughts, ideas and minds at different forums and charts, and this does not presuppose any work for ordinary mail. At the same time, telegraph messages were delivered only to the cities where major stations were situated and then postmen delivered them to their final destinations.
To conclude, the main argument drawn of Standage was that telegraph was a kind of the Internet of the 19th century, and the modern Internet works according to the principles by which telegraph was operated. I can not agree to this point of view as my personal experience and the literature I have read present more other functions of the modern Internet than telegraph had in the 19th century. The only common feature between internet and telegraph is that they both enable people to communicate, although at much lower speed in the case with telegraph.