Here are some thoughts I’ve had throughout our first week in Digital World. I found it fascinating to learn about the phonograph and the process of how it later turned into vinyl records. I never would have thought that they came from a button factory. Other than the phonograph, I think all the fundamentals we have learned about this week are 100% essential to understanding how our digital world functions today. Without these bold first advances of the time, we would not be where we are today in this tech-savvy world. So, here are some main ideas I’ve grabbed onto and some examples/thoughts/insights on why they might be so important to understand.
Idea #1: Scientists are different from engineers in that they are the ones who explain how systems work as opposed to engineers who are creators of various new things.
MY TAKE: Although scientists and engineers are often grouped together by people (including myself) who are not fully immersed in the technological and scientific areas of study, I have learned more about their differences this week than I have in the past year. Without both, of their own measure, we wouldn’t have things such as the phonograph or the telephone. These are just two examples of things we have examined in class, how they work, and how they have come to be.
Idea #2: Information vs. Signal vs. Message
Information- knowledge given/taken
Signal- physical thing that transfers from sender to receiver
Message- content of knowledge given/taken
MY TAKE: These concepts are pretty easy to grasp, so let’s go with an example to identify these key terms in an everyday situation. For example, you call a friend and tell her that you got an A on your test today. In this case, the signal is the means of your phones connecting, the information is your friend learning of your A on your test, and the message is your speech and sound and content of telling your friend about your A.
Idea #3: Transducer vs. Transmitter vs. Receiver vs. Transmission Channel
Transducer- device that converts energy from one form to another
Transmitter- device that sends the transducer signal
Receiver- device that recovers transmitted signal from the channel
Transmission Channel- physical medium on which signal is carried
MY TAKE: Without the understanding of the phonograph, people may never understand how important it was to affecting what are now our vinyl records, our CDs, and our DVDs. They operate under the same basic ideas. Bringing back up the phonograph example from earlier, we will now identify the parts of the phonograph that correspond with our Idea #3 key terms. Our transducer is the diaphragm of the phonograph, our transmission channel is the crank arm/wax cylinder, and our transmitter is the stylus (needle).
Idea #4: Frequency and Analog vs. Digital Signals
Frequency- number of complete cycles of a waveform (in Hz)
Analog- infinite number of values in a range, continuous, more difficult to work with
Digital- can have a limited number of values in a range, discrete, easier to work with
MY TAKE: Although the analog system is our older and more difficult system to use, it has taken us up to about the middle of the 20th century. From the phonograph to radios and the volume controls on TVs, analog systems have come in handy for their basic operation. Analog signals provide clearer answers since their numbers are more precise and digital are a tad easier to work with, not giving as much precision as analog. Digital information systems today include our computers and cell phones, but also include morse code as one of its top examples.
Idea #5: Switching System vs. Signaling System
Switching System ex: old fashioned telephone switchboard
Signaling System ex: part of the telephone system that establishes and controls connections
MY TAKE: The switching system, as you may have guessed, is the older system used by telephone operators and consumers alike well into the 1960s. The signaling system is a more enhanced form of this technology that does the work for us in a sense. I believe it is still important to see how far operators did come in their time using this switching system and to see how difficult it may have been for them to make physical connections while today not a thought it put into it.