Mr. Brown says he doesn't mind that they screw us over, but they at least owe us a smoke afterward. He can get away saying stuff like that, because his highly educated accent makes even the crudest comments sound charming to Americans.
"So, I met with the sales guy from the American Telephone and Telegraph company. He's trying to sell me on this idea of having a telephone in my room and a telegraph at my school."
"Are you going to do it?" he asks.
"I have my reservations. It just seems like another example of a teacher-centered technology. Like an Edison projector or a chalkboard from Man-Who-Stole-Fire-From-The-Gods company. Seriously, a century from now every classroom will have a phone and teachers will still be the ones to use it."
"Maybe. Or a century from now, they'll find a way to combine the telephone and the telegraph and they'll make it portable. It's what happens to all media. Pictographs are permanent and expensive and located on cave walls and then they are portable on papyrus and then the printing press turns reading from a collective experience to an individual one. Some day they'll do the same to motion pictures and telephones and maybe all on one device."
"Sounds cool to me. Students will finally have a chance to use a technology that was once teacher-centered."
"Maybe. Or maybe schools will ban them, because the real issue is one of power. Who wants students to have instant access to information at all times? Dangerous stuff, Tom. Teachers won't want to give up the control. So, my guess is like the pen pal networks and the personal journals, schools will ban the portable telegraphs."