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Posts Tagged ‘Queen Victoria

“We expect more from technology and less from each other”*…

 

Replace these “wireless telegraphs” with smartphones, update the dress a little, and this vision from a 1906 issue of Punch magazine could easily be for 110 years in the future. Part of a series of “forecasts” for the year to come, the caption reads: “These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady receives an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.” It’s a reminder that the idea of technology leading to a breakdown in “authentic” human interaction is a worry not solely limited to our age.

Punch seemed to have a knack for uncanny predictions of distant technologies to come. See for example this vision of the Skype-like “Telephonoscope” from 1879…

A Vision of Isolating Technology from 1906,” from Public Domain Review.  (The original is housed at the Internet Archive, from the University of Toronto Libraries.)

* Sherry Turkle, Alone Together

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As we pull on the thread, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that Queen Victoria sent the first official telegraph message across the Atlantic Ocean from London to the U.S. (Test messages had been exchanged for the prior 10 days).  Her message to President Buchanan, in Washington D.C., began transmission at 10:50am and was completed at 4:30am the next day, taking nearly 18-hrs to reach Newfoundland. With 99 words, consisting of 509 letters, it averaged about 2-min per letter.  The message was forwarded across Newfoundland by an overhead wire supported on poles; across Cabot Strait by submarine cable to Aspy Bay (Dingwall), Cape Breton; then by an overhead wire across eastern Canada and Maine, via Boston to New York.

This earliest Transatlantic Cable went dead within a month.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 16, 2016 at 1:01 am

“All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling”*…

 click here (and again) for the full infographic

From the indispensable David McCandless, at Information is Beautiful.

* Blaise Pascal

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As we shore up our syllogisms, we might recall that it was on this date in 1881, two days before his death, that British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli demurred from a visit by Queen Victoria, muttering “no, she will only ask me to take a message to Albert.”

 source

Written by LW

April 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

The Two Cultures*: technology in the service of the Arts…

Last January, The Royal Opera House and Weiden + Kennedy London co-hosted Culture Hack Day. “an event… bringing cultural organisations together with software developers and creative technologists to make interesting new things.”

And make interesting new things they did.  For instance, Roderick Hodgson @roderickhodgson made Altfilm, an elegant interactive directory of venues showing non-mainstream films.  Ben Firshman @bfirsh made BBC Haiku Player (The Guardian got similar treatment from Adam Groves). And your agoraphobic correspondent’s personal fave:  Dan Williams‘ “When Should I Visit?”– which mines Foursquare check-in data to determine “the least busy time to visit the museums, galleries and theatres of London.”

More wonderful examples of creative cross-pollination (and links to descriptions and photos of the proceedings) at Culture Hack Day.   C.P. Snow would be proud.

*The Two Cultures,” the 1959 Rede Lecture by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow, who argued that the breakdown of communication between the “two cultures” of modern society– the sciences and the humanities– was a major hurdle to solving the world’s problems.

As we think integrative thoughts, we might recall that The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations– or the Great Exhibition, as it was more familiarly known– opened on this date in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park.  Conceived and organized by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, the Exhibition was nominally a collection of technological wonders from around the globe.  But the eight miles of tables manned by 6,000 exhibitors within the Crystal Palace were largely British…  in keeping with Albert’s real intent– the mounting of an overwhelming display of Britain’s role as industrial leader of the world.  Six million people (equivalent to roughly a third of Britain’s population at the time) attended during its six-month run.

The Exhibition; architect Sir Joseph Paxton enclosed whole trees in his design. (source)

Beating plowshares into swords…

Bruce Lund has cemented his place in the toy-makers’ hall of fame– he created Tickle Me Elmo and Honey: My Baby Pony.  But as Popular Mechanics reports, the Pentagon wants a piece of him too…

His company’s latest product is a nonlethal weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt…  The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won’t be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund’s solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly…

Lund’s Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS) uses cans of methylacetylene propadiene gas, the kind that fuels blowtorches and nail guns, sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says…

There is plenty of interest in future developments of the combustion technology. Lund is talking to the law enforcement community about a handgun version that will provide the sort of nonlethal stopping power currently available only from shotguns. The Department of Homeland Security officials have been talking about a combustion-powered 40-mm grenade launcher to launch sensors that can detect toxic gas or place wireless listening devices. Lund has even been looking into making gas-fired mortars. An adapted VVWS might even have sports applications for skeet or trap shooting, and could be considered a green technology since it needs no cartridge cases and uses no powder.

Read the full article here (and take heart that Lund insists that he’ll return to home base: “Nothing is more fun than making toys.”)

As we rummage in the garage for that old BB gun, we might recall that it was on this date in 1840 that the “Penny Black,” the first adhesive postage stamp, was issued in Great Britain.  A product of postal reforms authored by Sir Rowland Hill, the stamp embodied a number of innovations:  it was pre-payment for delivery, it was affixed to an envelope, and it covered delivery anywhere in the U.K.  Before this point, payment was on delivery (by the recipient), and was charged by the number of sheets in a letter (often carried loose) and by the distance they were carried.

Queen Victoria’s silhouette (All British stamps still bear a likeness of the monarch somewhere in their design, and are the only postage stamps in the world that refrain from naming their country of origin, relying on the monarch’s image to symbolize the United Kingdom.)

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