Digitising our Life



The arrival of the telegraph created a revolutionised reality for information.  No longer were we required to physically move the message to the location it was being delivered to – whether that involved going and verbally communicating face to face, or writing a letter to be delivered, the message could only reach its destination through physically being transported.  Instead, the message was dematerialised, to be converted from its physical reality, into digital data.  A binary form to be transported from point A to B via connecting wires across the world.


I don’t want to focus on the telegraph, instead I want to focus on how it created a shift in the way we communicate.  The invention of the telegraph paved the way for further technology to be developed, and within our current day and age, we interact with digitised information all the time.  The internet is our modernised version of the telegraph – instantaneous global communication on a global scale.  We convert our messages into digital data to upload and share on the web, giving anyone with a connection to the network an opportunity to access our stuff.

We communicate in a way which does not require a physical form, or something tangible we can hold and read, but rather through a series of binary code, converted into a form we can interact with on an instant scale. This instant communication  has grown with it a culture of impatience.  Our messages get sent in a matter of seconds, and we expect a response back with similar immediacy.  We share what is happening to us in real time, and receive feedback in real time – likes on Facebook, comments on Instagram, retweets on Twitter.  We peer into the lives of those around us, through their digital representation of how they are currently engaging with the physical world.  Are we at a point where our physical interactions with the world are no longer worth anything if they cannot be preserved digitally for future reference?  And if so, are we still living the now if we feel the need to document every second of it, to look back upon?


22 thoughts on “Digitising our Life

  1. The ‘Idea of Now’ truly is a scary thought sometimes, the notion that in an instant someone can video call you, know where you are, know your name, face and details is honestly quite scary. Living in the past where any aspect of a digital identify would have been unheard of is horrible to think about. How would have individuals in the past reacted? The idea probably would’ve been rejected at first. It is interesting to see how the idea of communication and the various connections of networks we have interact. You could have possibly touched on some of that in your post as well just for some context. Great reference in your meme also, love me some digitalised letters.

    ~ krisesandchrosses ~


  2. Shifting away from the physical technology and rather discussing the way it changed the way of communicating, was a really interesting way to write your blog post. Also comparing the telegraph to the internet was very interesting as I had never thought of the two in a similar manner. The meme was also a great and funny addition to a well thought out blog post. The two questions you ask at the end of the blog are a good ending and have really made me think about whether we are actually living in the now, and if technology is changing our notions of communication.


    1. Personally I think technology is our version of ‘now’. “the person who doesn’t share [online] is subscribing to an outmoded identity and cannot be included in the new social space” (Silverman, 2015) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/26/pics-or-it-didnt-happen-mantra-instagram-era-facebook-twitter
      Although we may be ensuring that we stop and ‘share’ our lives online, we are not doing it because we think the physical experience is worth less, but rather because we respect it enough to tell others about it, and online communication has become our new normal for interaction, with our status/snapchat/post being used as a starting point of conversation amongst others.


  3. Hi Elysse,

    I like it how you begin your post by mentioning what I consider the biggest benefit of communication development: to erase the physical barrier.
    You did well pointing out several advantages of the process which flexible and instant communication are ones I like best. We are really ‘living the now’, nothing can stop us from sharing simultaneously through many ways across various distances.
    I think the post could be more comprehensive if you mention several possible drawbacks of this global network improvement ? Like maybe we are spending too much time living virtually ?
    Anyway, this is an article which I think you might enjoy because it predicts some technology breakthroughs in the future. Some of those may fit in the context.

    Great work ! Keep it up !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A really insightful post that has me thinking critically about the way we communicate. I definitely don’t think that our real life interactions aren’t worth anything without preserving them digitally. Usually our most valuable interactions aren’t recorded and are really valuable to us as humans. Through the technology we have today, the way in which we communicate has definitely changed as well as our expectations of communication and other people. This change is mainly for the better but has come with its down sides. Our immersion into this digital world has created an age in which we must consciously make an effort to enjoy what is real and around us right now. It’s important to take a step back from the digital and enjoy the real world! Great post and I hope to hear your insight into the questions that you posed!


    1. I don’t think we are at the stage where our physical interactions are worthless without digital preservation, however I do think that the way we experience them has changed. I find that in a lot of situations digital integration has become the natural response to the point where if we forgo posting about it, the experience isn’t ‘complete’. Instead of consciously making an effort to enjoy what is real and around us right now sans technology, I believe we are using technology to enhance our experience to achieve those goals. Does that mean we should document every small aspect of our lives in order to enhance our understanding and experience of the now? Probably not, but the beauty of the internet is that it allows people to do so whether we approve or not.


  5. Good insight!
    I like the idea of digging into the way telegraph has changed the way we communicate and thus, changed us. Living in the fast-paced environment (which is a consequence of technology development) requires us a lifestyle that can be able to keep up with it. People are being more aware of the influence of digitisation on us so I think physical interaction will not lose its value. But it’s good to sit back sometimes while living the now.


  6. That’s an excellent point you made when you asked if our physical interactions with the world are no longer worth anything if they cannot be preserved digitally. This is something I see day in and day out, especially at concerts where people sacrifice moments of real life for the sake of documentation. Geiger 2013 wrote about how nowadays the line between the public and private sphere is blurred as mobile technology is turning public space into individual pockets of private space.It has gotten to the point where maintaining a social profile is not a leisure activity anymore its a digital narration of your life that needs constant editing. If we are the narrators of our own lives who becomes the protagonist? who is actually living out the story?


  7. I’m quite big on technology in the sense of the positives its brought to society whether that’s international entertainment, the ability to connect with others across a large amount of space, or simply having access to a ridiculously large amount of knowledge (also, cat videos).
    The idea that this has built a culture of impatience hasn’t crossed my mind before and I understand how it works; after all, what are the chances people will pay attention to a photo on your Instagram feed from a year ago? Statuses, Instagram posts and even tweets have a short lifespan which become a bunch of data once the audience discards them. However, rather than impatience, I would see it as instant gratification – likes are the social currency of the digital world.
    I myself quite enjoy using Instagram and it’s nice to see people appreciate photos that you’ve taken whether that’s because you were wearing a killer outfit that day or you actually managed to take a decent photograph of a landscape – it also acts as a useful photo album for me. But I think it becomes a problem when you value your sense of self based on the numbers rolling in and become obsessed with the likes that appear on the screen, then it’s definitely time to take a step back.


  8. It’s interesting, that you make the comparison between the telegraph and the internet, because I always wondered whether people at the time of the telegraph ever thought of how much further we would evolve technologically. Because, at the moment, it’s still difficult to determine where we’ll be, technologically speaking in 50 years or so. The possibilities seem endless.

    Also wanted to say that I like that you’re post forced me to think critically about where we were, where we are and where we could be. I am also fascinated at the idea you raise of the ‘digital preservation’ and how it’s almost a way to gain some sort of immortality. Great work.


  9. Great post!
    You’ve made some good points, I agree to some degree younger generations have forgotten how to live in the now but I think it also depends on who you are talking to, for example my brother doesn’t look up from his phone, ever. His whole life is based around technology and its probably a good thing he’s studying computer engineering, but I don’t have snap chat or Instagram and I wouldn’t have Facebook if my roster and uni groups weren’t on there. I very rarely take photos or feel the need to video something unless I want to share it with other people who weren’t there. When I see people take photos of a view or something beautiful I always think they aren’t even experiencing it, they will go home and show everyone and tell them how great it was when they don’t even know themselves because they were looking through a lense. It’s crazy how we think our brain can’t remember a simple memory so we need to have some sort of evidence!


  10. Really enjoyed the meme and particularly that argument brought up in the end paragraph about how the instantaneous ways we can send messages, has resulted in a need for instantaneous reply, in the same ways you would when face to face with a person. In order to combat this need, Facebook introduced instant calls and video chats, on top of its already existing messenger app. This article explains here: http://www.itechpost.com/articles/17638/20160503/facebook-introduces-voice-calls-text-messages-messenger-android-version.htm
    It is very obvious that the way we communicate and view the notion of communication in general as an instantaneous concept, all stems from the groundbreaking ideologies and concepts first introduced to us in the 1800’s by the telegraph.


  11. Thought this was a really good read, also really like the use of the meme. I thought it was extremely interesting how you compared the telegraph to the internet. It made me think of how technology is going to continue to evolve and how it going to be in the years to come ! Do you think the world could continue on this path of wires? Or is it detrimental to basic human communication? I also really liked how you made the point that out physical interactions with the world no longer have a meaning if they are photographed or put online. because hey, if it wasn’t put on social media.. did it ACTUALLY happen?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Its clear that communication methods are going to keep evolving to meet emerging needs of modern day people. As mentioned above, Facebook introduced video chat as a response to their competitors, but it and even the simple audio chat feature is revolutionary because, as long as you’re on an unmetered connection, the communication is free. Your note about the value of these disposable communications is interesting, because each service presents a different life span for a piece of communication based on the content. An archived piece of internet history is, theoretically, stored forever. But something like a Skype call simply fades into the ether, never to be seen or heard from again.


  13. The shift that you mention (in regards to the telegraph) is so profound I can’t believe I didn’t notice it sooner. Suddenly, our whole idea of communication is shifted through one invention. The idea that the internet is the modern telegraph is definite food for thought, as it has had a similar ripple effect to the telegraph (though not quite on the same scale).

    I recently went to a concert where I experienced your exact point of digitally representing the present – instead of looking at the singer, people were filming, Snapchatting and live-streaming him. I admit I did the same, but its incredible to think we can be so present and yet so disconnected from what’s going on around us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was this the concert you tweeted about with the cabbage? Because if so I can say that I experienced that concert too, even if I didn’t hear the music. I was able to be a part of that environment through you and your pictures. So while you were physically present, I don’t think that made you anymore disconnected, instead you act as a pathway for those who weren’t physically present to connect through.


  14. Hi ther, I really liked how you managed to condense such a long lineage RE the progress and development of the internet, whilst still referencing its roots. Because it is important to mention due to the paradigmatic shift that occurred through the introduction of ‘borderless communication’. Nothing felt left out simultaneously nothing needed to be added – the blanks were filled. Furthermore I liked how you linked social gratification à la likes, comments, shares etc, as feedback, part of the communication cycle. What I find profound is the amount of value we have attached to a like, its almost social currency
    Great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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