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. The dynamic microphone usually is very sturdy, inexpensive, and vital to performers of all ranges. It usually has a cardioid polar pattern, meaning it collects most of the sound from in front of and around it, resembling a very round peach. You’ve definitely seen one or two in your lifetime even if you don’t know it.
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. The more that something is talked about online, the more buzz is generated about it, and the bigger online presence and impact it has.
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. If we create enough buzz around topics and people, then it’s going to catch on and it eventually has these words used to describe them.
That’s how it is with the internet these days. It’s how information and trends spread through our communities like wildfire–there is buzz around a topic or an image, or something that a celebrity said. Soon enough we see it in the Trending section on Twitter and two Buzzfeed articles about it. Everyone starts talking about it, no matter how stupid or silly it is. It doesn’t usually last very long, but the amount of publicity it gets within its ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ is enough to draw quite the metaphorical crowd and get everyone and their mother talking about it.
Not only has the Internet become a vital tool for news, it has become its living space. The Internet has a welcome matt and a couch for your news to sit and have some snacks on, maybe a 20-minute nap and a nice catch-up session. The Internet builds up content and simultaneously spits it back out in an endless cycle. We cannot live without it, and I honestly don’t think that anyone would want to. It has become both the microphone and the interface of itself–housing the information, but also amplifying it for the world to hear.
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, being 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. We can hear better, store more information and our voices can reach farther and farther.
The basic capacities for the microphone are simple. There is the diaphragm, the coil and the magnet. That will stay the same, no matter how many changes the microphone itself goes through. The process will still be relatively the same. As time progresses on, 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,