Monday, April 11, 2016

New news

The books "The Victorian Internet" and "What Hath God Wrought" focus on the telegraph and its effect on human society.  The telegraph seemed to be a miracle because regardless of how it did its magical work, it enabled much, much faster communication between very distant places.  Today, around 40% of the world's population has access to the internet.  That doesn't take into account the actual speed and reliability of the access,  But many in the US have a good connection, whether by cellphone or computer and they make use of it.

The invention of writing seems to have taken place between 5 and 10 thousand years ago.  Writing enables people to communicate ideas to generations born after their deaths and to get ideas and statements from people long dead before they were born.  A good part of what the US calls an elementary or basic education consists of learning to read and to write a language, commonly English.

But the innovation of writing and reading took centuries to spread around the world and that spread didn't and does not today reach everyone.  You can Google the world's % of illiteracy.  Different figures pop up but you can one-sixth of the world's 7 billion people as an estimate, or to be numerically rough and crude, call it a billion.

The Google results emphasize that 60% of the illiterates are women.  So, I bet it will be good for the world when the gender that is more competent with language gets a chance to read and write.

I am writing to alert you to a new innovation, a spinoff of the internet, which, by the way, is increasingly a place of smartphone use and less use of computers.  The new innovation is related to the free blogs and web sites provided by Google, Word Press and others.  If you have a blog and/or a web site, you are literally a publisher.  You publish words, pictures, maybe videos, maybe music or other sounds, usually open to the world.

Ok, the new innovation is Orange Street News.  So, a newspaper online?  What's innovative about that?  As you might have seen in Google News and elsewhere, the fact is that this new source is run by Hilde Lysiak and it focuses on news in and relevant to Selinsgrove, PA.  So, a local news org.  Big deal.  Pretty big and one you might want to remember since Lisiak is nine years old.  

This should not be happening, you say?  That is what people said when Joe, the scribe, could read from a scroll written last year in another country.  That is what people said when news from one part of the country or world got to another part at lightning speed by means of the telegraph.  Stay tuned.

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