Saturday, September 05, 2009

Nitpick of the day

OK, I'm being a bit trivial but indulge me. Sweeping generalisations and grand rhetorical statements bug me at the best of times, but particularly when they're quite obviously wrong.

Ziggy Switkowski who, as former CEO of Australia's first and biggest telecommunications company, should know better, opens an otherwise interesting Online Opinion piece about the march of technology with this:
Our forebears 100 years ago could not have dreamt of the emergence of television, computers, satellites...
Really? No-one in 1909 could have even dreamt that those things might emerge?

Could our forebears have imagined 100 years ago that advancements in technology would allow you to check big statements like Ziggy's in about a minute?

According to Wikipedia:

The first electromechanical television system was patented in 1884 in Germany. Before that, the concept of electrically-powered transmission of television images in motion, was first sketched in 1878 as the telephonoscope, shortly after the invention of the telephone.

Punch's Almanack for 1879 imagines a 100-inch wall-mounted interactive LCD TVwith surround sound

The first fictional depiction of a satellite being launched into orbit is a short story by Edward Everett Hale, The Brick Moon. The story is serialized in The Atlantic Monthly, starting in 1869. The idea surfaces again in Jules Verne's The Begum's Fortune (1879). In 1903 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935) published The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices, which is the first academic treatise on the use of rocketry to launch spacecraft. He calculated the orbital speed required for a minimal orbit around the Earth at 8 km/s, and that a multi-stage rocket fueled by liquid propellants could be used to achieve this.

The "castle clock", an astronomical clock invented by Al-Jazari in 1206, is considered to be the earliest programmable analog computer. But it was the fusion of automatic calculation with programmability that produced the first recognizable computers. In 1837, Charles Babbage was the first to conceptualize and design a fully programmable mechanical computer, his analytical engine. From the end of the 19th century onwards, the word computer began to be used to describe a machine that carries out computations.

People have more ambitious dreams than Ziggy gives them credit for.


alotstuff said...

nice blog......

Cameron Murray said...

I think he was not referring to the particular piece of equipment, but the emergence of particular technologies on a wide scale - so quickly incorporated into everyday life.

Yes, keep an eye on patents being filed now for technology that might become widely adopted in the next century.