Round 1: The History of Communication Technologies
This research round will be looking at the history behind mass communication systems, their predecessors and their uses in society. Just as a reminder of what I am researching my question was, "How have our attitudes toward "work" been skewed by our means of communication?". In order to study and understand the effects of these technologies, I must first know what they are.
Communication technologies that we use today are quite recent, but the effects it has had on modern society is drastic. Technologies that had once only been possessed by the government or elite few in the world now permeates into every minute of our lives. How did this come to be?
By the 20th century, telephones were already widespread and heavily relied upon. This ease of communication sped up communication between people and companies. The expression, "Time is money" resonates heavily with the use of the telephone. By the 1970's, telephone technology was becoming much better in terms of ease of use, sophistication, and economic viability. New industries that revolved around the telephone started to emerge as. The telemarketing industry started to rise in the 1980's in response. It was also at this time that computer switchboards replaced manual switchboards, further improving the speed of calls. Using the telephone cut down cost and time, two things that every business wants to need less of.
Another new tech that became a staple in the workplace industry was the fax machine starting in the late 60's. Instead of sending speech like the telephone it sent paper files through already established telephone infrastructure. This added another level of understanding between businesses and institutions as one could now receive documents nearly instantaneously without having to use mail. It became a new standard in business having a fax machine in the office. This new tech cut down on cost and time, just like the telephone.
Towards the end of the century, another new technology, perhaps the most influential, started to arise. A communication system originally created by the U.S. Department of Defense, the ARPANET grew in size and evolved into the Internet. By the mid 70's, primitive versions of e-mails started to be used but were not widespread. The next decade saw rapid growth for the internet as more and more gained access to computers, thus increasing demand. By the 90's the internet started to take a more recognizable form as it was breaking free from its command terminal roots. My favourite tidbit from this era was in 1994 Pizza Hut created the first internet ordering system. One could now order pizza from their computer! With increasing computer speeds and the refinement of network protocols, the internet started to become an international phenomenon. In a sense it united computers globally, allowing for easier communication. Unlike fax or telephone, the Internet was far more versatile, communication was more expressive. Businesses, motivated by the goal of "less time, less cost", adopted this new tech and invested heavily in it.
So what does all of this mean for the workplace? In a span of half a lifetime, communication went from being limited to telephones and mail to being nearly instantaneously accessible 24/7, across the world.
This concludes the first research round. Thank you for reading!