I always like to have a good book with me when I’m travelling. A few years ago, when I was making a trip to the States, the journey was made tolerable by some excellent reading material. The Victorian Internet is a wonderful true story written by Tom Standage, author of The Mechanical Turk. It tells the history of the telegraph while subtly drawing parallels to today’s revolution in information technology.
When I finished the book, I passed it on to my good friend Dan in Baltimore. He then read through it as we spent a few days together on a mini-roadtrip through Maryland and Virginia to visit American civil war battlefields.
This week I got a small package in the post from Dan. Inside was an item that pre-dates the plastic age: a glass telegraph insulator with the words
New York embossed on one side. A note accompanying this gift said:
Jeremy, congrats on the book! I send this artifact from the Victorian Internet which I’d found for you ages ago (but now am obliged to send post haste). Please enjoy and reflect on the technological ripples your efforts will create through the decades.