History of Communication

Reading over different articles about the power of the web, my mind went back to a class that I took in Graduate School titled “The History of Communication.” In this course, we talked about a lot of the technology that people have invented to increase the efficiency of communication. The first major technology that we talked about was Gutenberg’s Printing Press that used moveable type in the 1436. The very first book printed using this technology was the Bible, referred to as the Gutenberg Bible. Being able to reprint materials allowed the ideas from the Bible to spread quickly to a wider audience. However, this technology was limited in that the actual book had to travel from one person to another for the ideas to be shared.

Some rights reserved by bjornmeansbear

Then, another major invention that changed the way people communicated with one another was the railroad system. With a new from of efficient transportation, ideas were able to spread much more rapidly to more distant areas.

Some rights reserved by kevin dooley

This is where the power of the web really lies. All of a sudden, ideas are no longer limited by the form in which it travels, (verbal, visual, written etc) or by distance. This huge increase in efficiency of communicating with one another and in to a wide audience (language isn’t that big of a limitation anymore either! – though not perfect, Google Translate works!) is what makes the web so powerful. As I was looking for an image that could represent the complexity of the connections created through the web, I came across The Opte Project by Barrett Lyon. This project started in 2003 and visually represented the routing paths of the internet.

Retrieved from Wikimedia CommonsOpte Project” Some rights reserved by Barrett Lyon

What I find amazing is that this is what we are working with today. This is the world that the students (and we) must learn to navigate, manage and participate in. I see this image and think about how daunting this is as well as see the great opportunities that this provides. Every node is a possibly for us all to collaborate, challenge, question, create and grow. How many of these opportunities will we be able to utilize effectively? How many can we support the students to utilize?

Using the web is a great power, and it’s important to remember that, “With great power comes great responsibility.” – “Uncle” Ben Parker, in Spider-Man (2002)


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