Bookshelf: The Victorian Internet

Latest posts by Christine Haskell (see all)

I have written on social applications before, but just read this book and it made me re think how we approach technology. 

From Amazon:

Imagine an almost instantaneous communication system that would allow people and governments all over the world to send and receive messages about politics, war, illness, and family events. The government has tried and failed to control it, and its revolutionary nature is trumpeted loudly by its backers. The Internet? Nope, the humble telegraph fit this bill way back in the 1800s. The parallels between the now-ubiquitous Internet and the telegraph are amazing, offering insight into the ways new technologies can change the very fabric of society within a single generation. In The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage examines the history of the telegraph, beginning with a horrifically funny story of a mile-long line of monks holding a wire and getting simultaneous shocks in the interest of investigating electricity, and ending with the advent of the telephone. All the early “online” pioneers are here: Samuel Morse, Thomas Edison, and a seemingly endless parade of code-makers, entrepreneurs, and spies who helped ensure the success of this communications revolution. Fans of Longitude will enjoy another story of the human side of dramatic technological developments, complete with personal rivalry, vicious competition, and agonizing failures. –Therese Littleton –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

It’s all been done before, why are we always intimidated when it comes in a new form factor? From communication techniques like smoke signals to technologies like the telegraph –> telephone –> Fax –> computer –> email  –> social applications – everything is coming at us at ever increasing speeds.

It’s not whether these things are good or bad, it’s whether it fits in your strategy or not, and whether your customers also participate in these activities. 

According to this source, 800-numbers, which have handled a ton of business over the years, were “invented by AT&T in the 1960’s.” Every business felt they had to have one of these to be “present” for their customer. Then they found out they the numbers were useless unless they were marketed.

Having an empty pipe isn’t helpful to anyone unless it’s helping (something) flow from point A to point B.

The same is true for blogging, twitter, and any other social application.

What has blogging done to help you execute your strategy? Where does twitter fit into your marketing goals? Have you measured these activities? How will you know whether it’s working or not?

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