The Victorian Internet

Tom Standage writes in his book The Victorian Internet, “That the telegraph was so widely seen as a panacea is perhaps understandable. The fact that we are still making the same mistake today is less so. The irony is that even though it failed to live up to the utopian claims made by about it, the telegraph really did transform the world.”

The Internet, like the telegraph, offers tremendous potential for altering the world in a positive way. But we would be wise to temper our enthusiasm.

As Standage suggests, “Better communication does not necessarily lead to a wider understanding of other points of view: the potential of new technologies to change things for the better is invariably overstated, while the ways in which they will make things worse are usually unforeseen.”

Stephen Goforth