Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In bed with cultural dissonance

In my 63-year lifetime so far, there’s been major technological advancement. It’s been massive. Monumental. Unprecedented, too. Arguably the era of greatest and fastest tech advancement ever. When I was a nipper no-one would’ve believed that in 2010 I’d be able to wake up, turn on a portable electronic device smaller than a sardine tin, and within 10 seconds be reading something called email, and be linked to the world by something called the internet. But yesterday I did exactly this. And via the internet I read an item about telegrams [1]. This week is Back to Morse Week [2] – the 20th – marking the completion in 1872 of the 3,200 km Overland Telegraph Line between Adelaide and Darwin [3]. To celebrate, this week Darwin residents can send free telegrams nation-wide. Do you remember telegrams? They were used to send good and bad news; congratulations and commiserations. Best Men read them at weddings. And the Queen sent them to her centenarian subjects. The world’s first telegram was in 1844 – in the USA. Australia’s first one was in 1854, and the last one was in 1993 [4]. Technologically speaking, 1993 seems like an eon ago. (I didn’t send, or receive, my first email until 1998.) I don’t know if the current tech flourish’s increased people’s happiness. It’s an interesting question. But that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop us marvelling at it. Or suffering cultural dissonance [5] when one lies in bed surfing the net on one’s iPod, reading of telegrams. Ho hum.

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