Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet was a revelation when I read it. As a cub academic, one of my colleagues in the psychology department - a woman who’s been doing fascinating research on smart homes - recommended it as an “airport read”. I’m very glad I did (although my book group didn’t find it nearly as fascinating and worthy as I did). It felt like stepping into an Infinite Perspective Machine: the hubris that we experience during the hysteria over a contemporary “new” technology often has parallels with previous periods of innovation. Standage places the Internet and the Web in this context.
Briefly, it describes the social changes that we attribute to the online environment, but as they were observed and practiced during the era of the telegraph. One of the phenomena he examines is love “over the wires”.
These are my notes from Chapter 8 of The Victorian Internet.