Monday, July 16, 2012

"Cell Phone Tower Hill"

Back when electricity, steel and steam first made it possible to send messages faster than a person could walk or a horse could run, naming a place "Telegraph Hill" was a way to embrace the future.

Telegraphy's dots and dashes created the means of production for mass media, and advertising was the revenue model. Wire stories and their accompanying photos went from anywhere to everyhwere, blurring content strategies from local to national. Press barons built empires on top of monopoly rents, and high barriers to entry ensured that freedom of the press belonged to those who owned one.

That model lasted about a century.

Today, the internet, mobile, and streaming are disintermediating everything -- and anyone can be a channel. The technology is as unremarked upon as air, as ordinary as breathing; nobody's city councils are passing resolutions in honor of  "Cell Phone Tower Hill."

And while the future beeps and buzzes along, and print reverts to its pre-Gutenberg specialized luxury status, the antique brass, wood, and Bakelite artifacts of telegraphy and steam trade in online marketplaces at a premium.

Collectible telegraphy

Child's play: circa 1950s

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