A global nervous system: from the telegraph to cyberspace

Communication has evolved tremendously over time, going from messages being physically delivered on foot or via horse or boat, to the telegraph and underwater cables, to now days the world being a global information network.

The way that people viewed the world was entirely reconstructed at the thought of people from different countries being able to communicate. “A network of nerves on iron wire” was a phrase used by the New York Tribune at the time of telegraph inventions.

Even things like creating international time zones was something that needed to be thought about at this time (1879).

“The emergence of global information networks lead to an explosion in information transmission and processing” (Mitew, 2020).

This really got me thinking about how much humans have had to evolve in such a (relatively) short amount of time due to the innovation of communications technology. How have our brains developed? How would the brain of someone living 200 years ago differ to someones today?

“What need is there for the scraps of news in ten minutes?” was a quote from the New York Times in 1858 about the first transatlantic telegraphic cable. It made me realise that they experienced serious anxiety about evolving technology and it also helped me understand the common phrase used at the time “too fast for the truth”.

This Ted Talk speaks about technology anxiety in the modern world:


Stalder, F., 2004. Open cultures and the nature of networks. Science, Technology and Society22(2), pp.165-182.

Mitew, T., 2020. A Global Nervous System. Prezi, slide 67.

One thought on “A global nervous system: from the telegraph to cyberspace

  1. Hey Erin,
    I found this blogpost well written, it was straight to the point and the information you provided was interesting and relevant to this weeks topic. I also find TED talks a useful source of information and regularly watch them. The feedback I have on this post is that I couldn’t see your remediation, by adding it to your post as well as your twitter is a good way to make sure people see it.
    Overall really good job 🙂


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