How Internet Communication Has Made the World Smaller

Published: 16th February 2010
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The history of the world, from one angle, is the ongoing story of how it's gotten smaller and smaller in terms of travel and communication. As recently as the early 1800s, all travel and communication was the same thing - in other words, with the exception of the rare message-carrying pigeon, people had to take communications (letters, decrees, etc.) to their destinations the same way they got there, whether by boat between nations or across the U.S. on horses and wagons. In the mid-1800s, this started to change.



The railroads and the new telegraph technology matured at approximately the same time, with the railroads providing a coast-to-coast route starting in the middle of the century. As they went back and forth, the railroads carried the telegraph company workers that would place poles and string wire for intercontinental communication of the first kind. The telegraph was as dramatic a development in its time as the later telephone, television and computer. It reduced the time for news to get from New York to San Francisco from weeks to mere moments. This, in fact, changed everything.



Communications advantages

The advantages of instant communications are inestimable, and the role that the telegraph and later developments played in the 19th and 20th century growth of the U.S. was so huge as to be incalculable. Without communications that were swift and certain, this nation would never have grown the way it did. A hundred years after the railroads joined the coasts and the telegraph made communications almost instantaneous, the mid-1900s were awash in advances and inventions that were once again revolutionizing communication, like fax machines, live and recorded camera imagery and satellites.



The phone was everywhere. Television had grown from a novelty to a necessity in just 15 years, and now, in the postwar 1950s, scientists were making huge advances in "computing machines" and communications between and among them. By the 1970s, computations that used to take room-sized monstrosities were being solved by devices that fit on a desktop. Through the 1980s and 1990s, computer technology kept advancing, while communications technology also "went digital."



Always on

Today, many people who take advantage of the instant communications offered by fax machines, e-mail, web-based faxing and texting, videoconferencing and the rest, do not even know how it all works. You couldn't work at a time-sharing terminal in the late 1960s with programming knowledge. In the 2000s, five-year-olds were using PCs and browsing the Internet. The science gave birth to commodities, like today's $10 cell phones and $199 wireless computers. Talk really is cheap!



Returning to the shrinking world metaphor, we might as well say - with today's faxes, Web sites, iPhones and all the rest - that communications capabilities are nearly limitless. They are definitely instantaneous. Nothing brings people so close as to send text messages in real time, or share a video chat over the Internet, or be connected to the technology wherever they are and with a variety of devices - phones, netbooks, laptops, iPods, fax machines, etc. Even technology from several decades past, like the fax, has a comfortable spot in today's communications toolbox, with their low prices, ease of operation and ability to replicate a document for a distant viewer in what is still the fastest way.



What's next?

The talk is now about virtual reality (VR) in communications, which in one version of the near future has us looking at holographic friends standing on our desktops (scaled down, hopefully!). Any number of companies are working on this right now. The introduction of this technology, or whatever will take its place, will happen the same way all the other advances have occurred -a first rollout that's expensive, followed by everyone jumping on the winning bandwagon and competing to make the best and most affordable HoloPhone.



The advantages of the "smaller world through instant communications" should be evident to all. Greater efficiency means more work getting done by more people, and without restrictions based on geography or location. The ability to bring together teams from around the world to work together, even in real-time on a shared document, has changed the whole notion of teamwork. It has also helped create a world that even now has German cars being built in Alabama and American iPods being made in China.



Without the limitations of travel and distance, people have more time to collaborate with more people, and in more ways. The range of technologies - from old standbys like fax machines to the latest 3D imaging - is amazing, and what remains to be seen are how they will usher in not just a new era and further reduced world, but lead to even greater advances that knit people together ever more tightly.About the Author:

Metro Hi Speed is a leader in online fax solutions for any sized business. Less expensive and more reliable than traditional fax services - you'll enjoy the convenience and well as the cost. Visit us today for more information on our small business and corporate fax solutions.

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