Technology: Dashed Hopes and Bogus Fears

The Smithsonian chronicles an unpredictable information age

At a time when data moved on horses and ships, Samuel Morse inaugurated the information age in 1835 by translating messages into electric signals and telegraphing them at nearly the speed of light. With 20/20 hindsight, it is tempting to view today's networked and digitized world as the inevitable culmination of Morse's breakthrough technology. That would be a mistake, however. Technological change has been marked by fits, starts and left turns, and the clues to the future have often been hidden in the clutter of the present.

This is the message of a new $10 million permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian...

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