Course blog for the second-year undergraduate module 'Hacking the Book' at the University of Birmingham.
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Mediums of communication
For my n-gram search, I used three of the most popular written methods of communication since 1800: the letter, telegram and e-mail. Whilst once the only way to pass along a message was via the letter form, as technology has advanced other ways of communicating have advanced, most latterly through the internet. As expected therefore, the use of the word letter has been dominant since 1800, peaking in the late 1830s. Despite a few slight increases in use again, it follows an ever decreasing trend, not only due to the increase in use of e-mails but also other methods not shown on this graph such as phone calls and text messages. Thus the use of e-mail was completely unheard of until the rise of the internet in the 1990s, where it has experienced a sharp increase ever since. What surprised me most was the use of the word telegram: perhaps ignorantly I expected telegram to be almost as popular as letter in the late 19th century, however it never received such popularity and has slowly dwindled since the 1920s peak. What will be interesting to see in years to come is if, and when, letter becomes less used within books than e-mail: possibly a sign that technology has prevailed over traditional methods and changed the face of communication for good.