1910 __ The Instantaneous answer — Group listening
‣ Comment : A history of group listening to phonographs or radios is obviously a step [...], but I would predict taht, even in these moments of collectivity and togetherness, people’s practical techniques of listening involveda certain prior individuation of acoustic space. They entered this audile collective like the mythical individuals who would enter into a social contract : first fre and separate and then together. Private acoustic property and the commodity form of sound emerged together. [...] The collective activities [...] are possible only after the listeners have been individuated. — their separation effected through bodily disposition, the mix of prohibition and exhortation enacted through social convention and the ideology of the universal bourgeois individual The collectivity represented in this mode is more an interconnection than anything else. — listeners are linked with the network and, through the network, can reach one another. This was Kenney’s original point : standardized, commodified music allowed people separated by expanses of time and space to hear the same thing. The same principle works for telephony. (Jonathan Sterne, pp. 167-168)
‣ Original excerpt : « The Instantaneous Answer. — Sending a message is only half of the transaction. The other, and equally important, half consists in “getting back the answer”. Sometimes this is a reply to a question, or the acceptance or rejection of a proposal. Sometimes it is simply an acknowledgment that the message has been received. The value of the message depends upon getting an answer. When a general manager sends word to a representative in a distant city, he wants to know that his man is “there”, that he “recieves the message”, and that he will act. If the answer is not final, but raises another question, there is no delay. The other question can be settled at once. It is possible, in one telephone interview, to come to a decision which could not have been reached without the instantaneous answer. Each answer is made “instantaneous” by the Bell telephone service. The Belle system, with its ten million miles of wire, provides the instantaneous answer for everybody, anywhere, at any time. — Increasing use if the Long Distance Telephone means greater results in every line of human endeavor. telephone efficiency means One Policy, One System, Universal Service. Every Bell Telephone is the Center of the System. » (N.W. Ayer advertisement for AT&T’s phone service; cited by Jonathan Sterne, p. 159)
‣ Source : Sterne, Jonathan (2003), “The Audible Past - Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction”, Durham & London : Duke University Press, pp. 167-173.
‣ Source : Kenney, William Holland (2003), “Recorded Music in American Life — The Phonograph and Popular Memory, 1890-1945”, Oxford university Press US.
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