Today’s guest, Charlie Curtis-Jones, takes us on a short journey through the history of communication. Don’t worry, it’s more fun than it may sound! Enter Charlie:
It would have been hard for a caveman, relaxing in his cave alongside his loin-cloth adorned family and pet sabre-tooth tiger (The Flintstones is a documentary, right?) to imagine a world where one of the greatest bug-bears known to mankind is a teenager, babbling away on a mobile phone in the silent carriage on the train.
Then again, it must have been pretty annoying waiting weeks on end for a message from the next settlement about the invention of the wheel while they lark around in newly-invented carts propelled by their feet poking through the floor. Fred and Wilma have a lot to answer for.
The point being, communication and interaction between human beings has come a long way over the past few thousand years or so, for better and for worse.
Take a second to think about it, is there a single shiny device that, for all its undoubted brilliance, doesn’t frustrate / annoy in equal measures?
Let’s go right back. Morse code, invented over 200 years ago, was a vital tool in World War Two, imperative to organising a country and its army into an undefeatable unit against the invading forces from overseas. Without it, the possibility of German occupation was a very real one. Still, did dear old Samuel Morse really have to use such an annoying beep noise to signify every dot and dash? It made it sound like R2D2 having a heart attack.
After that, was a stream of devices that enhanced communication, but continued to grate and annoy. Radio with all its crackles and static delivered the spoken word, while the first telephones and personal two-way radios were frustratingly limited.
We all remember the early house phone and its twisty cord, and the fact you could only display the full range of your emotions within a radius of about two feet.
Two-way radios were the stuff of boyhood dreams, letting you engage in secret chats from your mate next door without the evil overlords that are your parents knowing. Nowadays, they appear to be the preserve of bouncers who are intent on ruining your night.
Skipping quickly and conveniently past a couple decades of development brings us neatly to the present day. We’re overloaded with laptops, smartphones and tablets all of which allow us to speak to anyone on the globe at anytime, anywhere. Undoubtedly the world has become a smaller place.
But the price way pay is heavy. Buzzing, ringing and vibrating follow us wherever we go, social media provide a constant commentary on all the interesting things going on in the world, like when a dog is wearing a jumper. It is incredibly easy for a stranger from the other side of the world to inform you how idiotic you are with a few simple taps and swipes of a finger.
Alas, we are now set on a course where communication will become easier and easier, and harder to ignore. Technology will move on at break-neck speed, making devices smaller, quicker and smarter than ever before.
But surely, I can’t be the only one who, tired of the pit-falls of technology that go alongside its undeniable brilliance, sometimes wants to be left alone in his cave with a stone newspaper and my pet dinosaur with a bit of peace and quiet?
Charlie Curtis-Jones works for Brentwoodradios.co.uk, the radio communication experts.