ANATOMY OF A MICROPHONE
The most common type of microphone, the dynamic microphone, uses a wire coil, a magnet, and a thin diaphragm to capture an audio signal.
When I speak into a microphone, the acoustic pressure waves from my voice vibrate the diaphragm, which causes the coil to move back and forth past the magnet, creating current.
The louder I speak, the more the diaphragm vibrates, and the stronger and larger the current.
To me, this is the Internet.
With so many people connected and communicating online, words like trending, buzzworthy, and viral — words used to describe pressure waves and the currents they create — are growing in popularity. The Internet has become a very powerful tool, one that can make a single person’s voice very, very loud.
ALL OF US ONLINE
The Internet continues to connect more of the world everyday, amplifying and recording the voices of more and more people. Mark Zuckerberg, in his latest Time Magazine interview, outlines his plan for, as Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO puts it, “connect[ing] the people who are not yet connected and watching what happens.” His mission is to “connect the world,” but what happens when the world is connected? When everyone can hear us, we can enact change faster, stronger, and safer. In the same interview, Zuckerberg likens the internet to a telephone: “I think about it like 911 in the U.S…. if there’s an emergency, if there’s a fire or you’re getting robbed, you can always call and get access to those kinds of basic services. And I kind of think there should be that for the internet too.” He is right to call the need to hear and be heard a basic one.
AMPLIFY AND RECORD
In 600 B.C., the Greeks created masks with acoustic holes in the mouth designed to amplify sound. In 1877, the phonograph was invented not only to amplify sound but also to record it. In 2014, the Internet is our largest, fastest, and most evolved multifunctional microphone.
Bell and Tainter’s Photophone receiver, one part of the device to conduct optical telephony.
The Internet and the microphone evolved in similar ways: at first, able to amplify only a single voice to a limited number of users, the quality was poor and often came with interference; the ability to store recorded information, once considered necessary, was weak and required additional hardware in order to transfer information safely. As both devices have progressed, they have continued to find ways to make our voices louder and clearer. Human beings will continue to innovate, create, and change, but the basic need underlining that change remains: the need to amplify and record.
From One Ear To Another,