Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Means of Communication

I bought a new phone the other day -- a smart phone they call -- it does all sorts of neat stuff -- some of which I will probably never use. Today -- at a museum in Jogjakarta, Indonesia I noticed in a glass display case a small bronze cylinder -- below it -- were the words: 'a means of communication.' Just like my new mobile phone, someone could carry this device around in a pocket. It works by tapping on the cylinder and a high-pitched metallic sound is heard. This particular device was used in a small community -- it was used around the 5th or 6th century. It was strictly used for local calls.

Just yesterday, I saw another communication device -- at the Sultan's Palace -- it was definitely fit for a king. It must have been six or seven feet long -- made of wood -- and a diameter of nearly 36 inches.  Pound on this -- and you get a deep, deep bass sound -- early Morse Code. You can definitely place a longer distance call with this wooden log.

These devices worked on a much quieter planet. Today, here in Jogjakarta, like many places around the world, you are assaulted with man-made sounds -- motorbikes, cars and stereo and TV sets turned up to full volume -- with people shouting over them to be heard. Noise has made these devices obsolete.

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