Tracking the developments in communications technology through this week’s lecture and texts has been interesting, but most interesting to me have been the developments in human response towards this technology.
We see in A Short History of the Internet Bruce Sterling’s excited response to the beginning of web culture. Everything was so shiny and new to him that you can more or less pick out quotes from the article and put them straight onto any internet themed meme and they’ll work!
Sterling is not only enthusiastic himself, but also anticipates enthusiasm from others, citing at the end of his piece ways for readers to get involved in the exciting and growing cyberculture of the 90s. This response is a marked difference from that of the early 20th century we saw cited in the lecture, in which people were eager to use this new speedy technology, but dubious of how exactly it worked (“Why haven’t you sent the message? Why is my soup still here?”). It’s even further still from the responses of earlier society, the society which feared the consequences of dabbling with electricity (see: Frankenstein), suspected that gramophones would enable communication with the dead, and deemed leaps in technological discovery as akin to the supernatural.
It seems almost as if the more communications technology grows to a resemblance of humanness, carrying messages across the globe like our nervous system does through our bodies, the more people are able to integrate themselves eagerly into that system.