There is nothing new under the sun, says Ecclesiastes, and when it comes to social media Tom Standage has set out to prove the saying right. His day job is as a journalist and the digital editor at The Economist. But he’s also the author of a book called The Victorian Internet. And he’s got another in the pipeline called Cicero’s Web. I began by asking him about a technology which totally transformed Australian life in the Victorian era - the telegraph wire.
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Economist editor Tom Standage says if you want to get a good picture of world history, you should look at spices.
In his book, An Edible History of Humanity, Standage writes about how tall tales of carnivorous birds and flying snakes let Arab middleman charge Europeans inflated prices for cinnamon and pepper for years. Standage says it wasn’t until an Indian ship went adrift in the Red Sea that the Europeans realized there was an easier route to get all those spices they had been craving.
Tom Standage is the business editor of The Economist. He started his career as the Science and Technology Editor at the Guardian, and has written several books which merge popular science and history including Victorian Internet, The Neptune File and The Mechanical Turk and A History of the World in 6 Glasses.
His latest book is An Edible History of Humanity, an account of the key role food has played in our history.