Dots and dashes; zeros and ones: The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by the Telegraph and InternetBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7337.620 (Published 09 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:620
- Tony Delamothe (firstname.lastname@example.org), web editor
An exhibition at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, until 30 July
The full exhibition is also available at www.nlm.nih.gov/onceandfutureweb
It allowed people to communicate almost instantly across great distances. It revolutionised business practice, gave rise to new forms of crime, and inundated its users with a deluge of information. Secret codes were devised by some users and cracked by others. The benefits of the network were relentlessly hyped by its advocates and dismissed by the sceptics. Governments and regulators tried and failed to control the new medium.
It was the telegraph, as described by Tom Standage in The Victorian Internet (Orion Paperbacks, 1999).
In “The Once and Future Web: Worlds Woven by the Telegraph and Internet” the US National Library of Medicine has mounted a compare and contrast exhibition, in which the similarities predominate. As well as filling the exhibition space in Bethesda, the complete exhibition is accessible from the library's website.
The route travelled by Samuel Morse's inaugural telegraphic message in 1844, “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT,” passed only a few miles from the library's door. Within a few decades telegraph wires had …