When the ticker tape machine made its New York City stock-trading debut in 1867, the world saw the most cutting-edge communication system to date. Ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium -- and for the first time, trading was done in near real-time.
Fast-forward to 2006 and the launch of Twitter. In a way, equally phenomenal yet with a vast difference. As technology slowly draws us away from hard copies -- books, albums, letters -- Twitter is a system with no paper trail and little opportunity to create one. Until now.
Enter Adam Vaughan and his design, The Twittertape Machine, a splendid steampunkish standalone device that prints a feed of your tweets and mentions on Twitter. All that is required is ticker tape, power and an Ethernet connection to the internet and the machine will automatically check Twitter for new tweets every 30 seconds.
At this point the art piece/invention is a one-off prototype and acts as a quirky-cool-clever reminder of our past -- a working sculpture that transforms a modern ephemeral experience, the tweet, into something we can hold. It is a statement ripe with nostalgia, and for those of us who wittingly yet perhaps begrudgingly forge on to e-books and MP3s, it's a poignant concept.
Although the machines require no computer, no ink, and certainly uses less paper than a traditional printer, in a time when we're encouraged to go paperless where possible, is it all that prudent to desire a device that creates a need for paper where there wasn't a need previously? Probably not. That said, it's an awesome concept and at the very least, there'd be a fresh supply of fodder for a return to old-school victory parades down the Canyon of Heroes.
Stay tuned to see what unfolds at twittertape.co.uk.