What hath God wrought?

Telegram, b. 24 May 1844, d. 27 January 2006, R.I.P.:
Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage.

Western Union Telegram, 27 January 2006

A little less than 162 years before, Samuel FB Morse sent the first telegram, saying:
What hath God wrought?
It took some years for telegrams to become commercially available, and it’s possible there is some company still sending telegrams today, but more than a century and a half is a pretty long run for a technology.

Will the Internet still be around in another 130 years or so? My bet would be it or something like it, perhaps using different protocols, and almost certainly more densely connected to not only more nodes but to more different types of nodes, from toothbrushes to airliners. (Of course, in that sense you could argue that telegrams are still around; they just morphed into Instant Messages and cell phone text messages. And for how much of what we think originated on the Internet was actually tried earlier on telegrams, not to mention how many of the social effects were, or were feared to be, the same, see the book, The Victorian Internet.) For the next few decades? Even more so.

Keeping up with the opportunities afforded by the Internet can be a big competitive advantage; not doing so is a big risk of doing business. I wonder if I’m imaging, for example, a correlation between airlines that got the Internet early and made their services increasingly available easily over the Internet (Southwest), even providing information about other airlines’ flights (American) and those that didn’t or did so slowly (Delta).


1 thought on “What hath God wrought?

  1. John Charles Griffin

    Lawrence White at University of Georgia wrote a perspective for The Cato Institute in 1996 entitled “The Technology Revolution and Monetary Evolution.” The article alluded that digital currency would likely circumvent the benefits, costs, and logistics of “wiring money.”
    Contemporary consumerism using ATM cards and Electronic Fund Transfer has become a routinely
    convenient process for most anyone with financial balance capabilities.
    Western Union has simply fallen into archives of extinction with the likes of mule & plow, Pony Express, 33 rpm records, and burma shave road signs.
    Economics Unwired
    So sayeth prophets,
    the Lord of Business
    thus spake, “This is Good.”
    Greenhouse sprouts I-Pods
    In a blackberry patch
    watered by text messages
    with gross national product
    dispatching border crossing
    graph chart databases on
    internet highways leading
    lost drivers to checkpoints
    where cookie cutters count
    megabytes & market shares.
    J. Griffin 2006

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