The electronic environment: Living electronically

It seems like the place that we find ourselves now is only the latest step in a long trend, long history, of becoming increasingly electronic, increasingly digital in our lives.
Something that started as a technology around the edges of life, simply added on to the way we were, solving particular problems, providing particular opportunities as an adjunct addition to our what was considered to be life, real life, became increasingly more and more normal and central to our lives, until we reach the point where really it becomes almost inconceivable to live our lives without it, and so much more of our lives is lived within it.
And this is especially jumping to prominence as we go into a physical lockdown, bodies physically separated, isolated, locked down, but with the ability to communicate electronically, now it moves into taking over even more of the way we live, becoming even more central.
So it seems like this is a long journey, and I don’t know how far back to go, maybe there can be other precursors imagined, but imagining electronic communication, the simple telegraph, maybe a bit under 200 years ago, being able to send an electronic signal, that we could encode a message into a signal to be sent at near light speed around the world: this was really the beginning of the internet.
I mean, at that time you had like Morse code, and you could tap out a single message, so it’s almost laughable by today’s standards, but that was the beginning of being able to communicate electronically.
Then we had the next level: it seems like the next level would just be, for most people, passive technology.
That would be radio.
For most people, it was simply receiving, so that we could communicate through listening to what was being broadcast.
But it wasn’t taking over our mode of communication.
It started to become part of what we would consume.
It became part of our environment.
Just like we had the people and places around us, now we had, through the radio, access to a whole new range of experiences that could be fed to us through this electronic medium.
And then, of course, well, maybe I put those in the wrong order, because there’s also the telephone.
Maybe radio first, then telephone.
Because with telephone, it’s like a radio that goes two ways, so then you could start to reach out to people directly and just call them.
And it’s so normal now, it seems so quaint, but it’s amazing to think of how new and just unbelievable that would have been to be able to pick up a device and talk to an actual person who’s actually in another place and have a live conversation with them.
So that started to become part of normal life.
Television then became an even more powerful medium, because there’s something about combining that video that just like completely- the screen.
That’s when the screen started.
The screen started to draw us in.
Of course, there was film before that, we could see movies, but there’s something about having that box in your home with a screen, with pictures and sound being fed electronically, where now this whole world was opening up, incredible worlds of the imagination and messages from anywhere in the world and even from space, and they were all coming to this box, feeding us a whole new realm of experience.
And that became part of every day.
So that’s the world that I started my life in, the world where telephone and television, these were every day.
Everyday life.
I remember there was one person I knew, there was a list of phone numbers for people in a school, and there was one person who didn’t have a phone, and that was very special and eccentric.
And there were still a few people that would avoid the television, having one of those in their home.
But that was all part of our ordinary life.
These were tools that became completely normal to us, so that they almost became extensions of ourselves, being able to communicate through the telephone and to receive things on the television: that became part of our environment.
So asking somebody “Did you see that TV show?” That is like- that TV show is part of the environment.
It’s like, “Well, did you see the TV show?”: it’s like asking, you know, “Did you see that giant bear that walked to the edge of town yesterday?” I mean, that would have been something that would be worth paying attention to.
It’s part of the environment.
Same thing could be said for television.
So that’s really where I first experienced electronic communication, and then of course, that was just the beginning, because then things started to change in the 90s, and that’s when the internet came in and that’s when things reached a whole new level.

#electroniclife #electronicworld #electronicliving

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