The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers

Category: Engineering
Author: Tom Standage
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by neversaydie   2021-08-02
For the Space Shuttle part of the space program specifically, Rowland White's Into the Black is a great recounting of how that program got started and came to fruition with the first flight:

Haven't read my copy yet, but for the origins of the (extremely important) container shipping industry, Marc Levinson's The Box comes highly recommended:

Another one high on my to-read list; the story of the 19th century telegraph system and its impact (figure this is early enough to fall outside the traditional tech category):

by Stratoscope   2019-07-26
Anyone who likes this article may also enjoy The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage.

It is about the human and cultural impact of the telegraph as much as the technology. The telegraph enabled instant communication, and when the first undersea cables were laid in the mid-1800s, that communication stretched from one continent to another. This changed many things.

One of my favorite chapters is "Love on the Lines", about the telegraph operators who flirted with each other in Morse code and even got married "on line".

by wpietri   2018-07-19
I don't think the people who created Usenet were entirely unaware of human social dynamics. And the people who created things like Twitter certainly weren't unaware that Usenet, mailing lists, and web forums existed.

But at best, they had an incredibly rosy view of what was going on. E.g., looking back, a Twitter founder claims that in 2006 everyone "was cool":

As Neiwart documents, though, many of the terrible people online today are intellectual descendants of the terrible people who were doing their social networking in person and via the mail:

by wpietri   2018-01-07
I'm not sure you read this very well. The notion is not that the Arab spring was a utopia. The notion was that the Arab spring, fueled by direct person-to-person connection on FB, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc, were symptomatic of the Internet's power to create freedom and social utopia.

It's part of a persistent strain of technoutopianism. You might read Tom Standage's excellent 1998 book "The Victorian Internet", which talks about the adoption of the telegraph during the Victorian era. Many of the same things people said about the Internet's power to change society were said about the telegraph:

by TYPE_FASTER   2017-08-19
This book, a good read about the invention and adoption of the telegraph, includes references to information overload from the 1800's.

by Stratoscope   2017-08-19
Start from the beginning of the story to get all the context. It's an interesting read: