WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Happy Birthday, Alexander

March 3 is Alexander Graham Bell's birthday. He was born in 1847 and invented the telephone in 1876. There is some debate about whether Bell gets too much credit and another inventor Elisha Gray not enough.

But there is little doubt that the world changed forever that year. And the proof is in the cellphones nearly all of us carry with us.

It is interesting to note that as cellphones are increasingly used for text messaging, communications is taking a step back in a way toward the telegraph. That might be a stretch, but think about it. Both use short bursts of words with all kinds of imaginative abbreviations. I know, one is dots and dashes and the other real words and letters.

But as telephone and communications technologies continue to evolve they come with disruptive qualities. We may not like or understand what they do. We might think that they are frivolous. That is until we find some critical use and then they are no longer a toy, but a tool.

I know my wife doesn't think very highly about my Blackberry, but thanks to Duke basketball she's coming around.

Last weekend we were driving back from my parents' house while the Duke-St. John game was on. We couldn't find it on the radio, but I showed Beth how to use the browser on the Blackberry and she kept up with the game.

Duke easily won, which makes Beth happy. And then she uttered her first - and so far only - praise for my Blackberry. "This thing is pretty neat."

Thank you, Mr. Bell.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 03, 2008 at 9:55 AM

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