The Victorian Internet
By Tom Standage
8/10 from 2 reviews
Fast and fascinating
I finally got round to reading this some years after it came out, and it was worth the wait. Standage looks at the development of many kinds of long-distance communication, from visible semaphore-style contraptions, through the telegraph, and on to the telephone. Each has its own quirks, characters and amazing facts and could well sustain a books of their own. But this is a not-too-deep whizz through the topics which reads like a fun magazine article, and it succeeds in bringing the period to life.
Obviously, given the title, you would expect the book to draw parallels between the telegraph and the Internet, but cleverly this isn't done until the very end. It would have been easy to relentlessly hammer the points home throughout but instead the net-savvy reader is left to pick up on the subtly highlighted similarities. This leaves the fascinating tale of an incredibly disrupting and enabling technology to its own devices and the book's all the better for it.