A little piece of communications history

Last month was pretty mind blowing for me, largely due to my trip to SXSW Interactive which has completely transformed the way I’m looking at communication. I still have a whole heap of ideas to get on this blog – but of course client work needs to come first, especially when you’re growing a new business, so I’ve set myself the challenge of getting them down over the next fortnight. I know that kind of goes against the point of a blog, but that’s the way it is for now!

In the meantime, something interesting happened today, which in a funny way sums up some of my feelings about the evolution of communication.

I wondered up to Harborne high street this morning with my other half, Tom, for a mooch around the shops and to get some fresh air. I had a cheque to pay in courtesy of my mobile phone provider, £45 cashback to try and sweeten the huge mobile bills I’m paying each month. I couldn’t live without my crackberry at the moment, having instant access to emails and clients is so important when you’re working by yourself. I look at it as my virtual office. But as we all know, the faster communications move, the more instantly accessible you become, any place any where, and for good or bad, standard 9 – 5 working hours go right out of the window.

As I was tapping my details into the computerised paying in facility, Tom asked me what I was planning to spend the £45 on. Although I’ve spent that several times over for my mobile recently, it still seemed like a bit of a treat. With friends coming over for dinner tonight, I expected that to go on the Tesco bill, but as we wondered along the high street an old Imperial typewriter in the window of a charity shop caught my eye.

I’m a bit of a history freak; I spent three years at Birmingham Uni getting excited about social history and the way that any change effects the lives of ordinary people. I’ve also recently spent three months travelling, with no posessions other than a bag of clothes and a few books to trade at the next town.

Along with thinking about the value of culture and craft in the future, after reading Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle on my travels, this had all got me realising that I don’t own anything of any real value – whether it be monetary or sentimental. As new technologies come in, our possessions become more and more disposable – whether that be mass produced furniture, clothing or the latest mobile phone. What precious items will we have to hand down to our children? At this rate, a bag of useless cables and leads and a few odd looking items that won’t work because batteries don’t exist anymore.

By some odd coincidence, the typewriter in the window was £45 and as any shopoholic knows, when you get a sign like that – you just have to have it. Maybe I’d been influenced by watching Briony Tallis in Atonement last night, and that this could be all the inspiration I needed to write my first novel, but it seemed to me that owning a little piece of communications history had some real value.

Imperial 50 Typewriter

Of course, part of the beauty of new technology is the speed with which you can get answers, and a quick search revealed that my Imperial 50 Model would have been made some time between 1927 and 1955. Having a bit of a fanciful imagination, I love to think about who would have used this machine during that fascinating period of English history, and why. The quality is fantastic, it was built to last; this machine could be 80 years old, and it still works.

Apologies for the quality of the photo, I couldn’t find the charger for my digital camera so I had to take it on my phone…





2 Responses to A little piece of communications history

  1. Nick Lockey says:

    Really interesting post Ruth.

    I’m writing this on a laptop I’ve had for 5 years which I love to bits and still works perfectly but unfortunately technology is passing it by.

    Suddenly the new printer I bought won’t work properly on the outdated USB1 port. similarly the photos I want to upload to the net take forever to copy across from my (external) hard drive since I upgraded to a 10 megapixel digital SLR. I can’t even take it out and about to do work on it because I need to bolt so many bits and pieces to it to get everything to work.

    I’m currently using it to browse the net looking for a new laptop. I feel like I’m betraying an old friend. Even my phone, which is less than a year old, is on the way out.

    Man, I hate this disposable technology culture.

  2. gary says:

    Just had to let you know I laughed about ‘Crackberry’… fantastic term 🙂 Be shady dealers on every corner with them soon 🙂

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