MIT 2000 Reading Summaries: Osborne, Pike, Winseck, Martin

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Western University
Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

October 13, 2011 Reading Summaries “Lowering ‘The Walls of Oblivion’: The Revolution in Postal Communications in Central Canada, 1851-1911” Brian Osborne and Robert Pike This reading explores the effects the ‘mass’postal service had on people’s lives in Ontario and Quebec between 1851 and 1911. The postal service used to be a luxury, but after Britain gave up their control of the Canadian postal service to the provinces and territories it became accessible to everyone. Now there were more post offices and faster services; with this change meant that there was less need for face to face communication, which brought about a communication revolution. The number of post offices “almost quadrupled between 1851 and 1867” (73). Implementing these new post offices meant that more transportation was needed. The invention of the railway was very important because it greatly reduced mail delivery times. More free, public elementary schools were opened which increased literacy, as you had to be literate in order to use the postal service. Reading and writing letters became a normal, daily activity. Ahigh increase in migration in Ontario and Quebec (mainlyOntario) meant that there was more of a demand for post offices. Osborne and Pike say that letters sent to family members not living in Canada functioned as a sort of travel brochure for Canada. The post office also enabled more people to move away from home because they would no longer be completely cut off from communicating with loved ones – they could do so through the mail. In addition to providing mail service post offices started functioning as banking facilities and enabled mail order. Osborne and Pike conclude the article by giving ideas as to why the postal service was more popular in Ontario than Quebec. “Back to the Future: Telecommunications, Online Information Services, and Convergence from 1840 to 1910” Dwayne Winseck This reading discusses the media convergence that was brought about by the invention of the telegraph. If we understand how the telegraph evolved we can predict how new media will evolve. There used to be no demand for the telegraph in Canada, but delayed implementation of new technologies was not new to this country. However with help from “railways, the state, stock markets and the press” the telegraph began seen as having a purpose (81), and the press was instrumental in commercializing the telegraph. Through the telegraph the press could easily distribute news quickly and cheaply. The Canadian Electric Telegraph Act made it possible for anyone to develop their own telegraph network. The telegraph eliminated the need to wait for news from far away. Companies began to compete to gain a monopoly on information, as this was possible now when it was not before. Soon companies like theAssociated Press controlled pretty much all of the Maritime telegraph companies. In an effort to consolidate control over telegraphy in NorthAmerica a transatlantic cable was created by theAnglo-American Telegraph Company in 1865. They held a monopoly over certain parts of land, like Nova Scotia, that no other companies could touch. Other competitors emerged, small companies aligned with other small companies to stay in business, etc. The telephone was provided by separate companies (not
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