nventors of the Morse Code, Samuel F.B. Morse and Alfred Vail, must have never imagined that 168 years after their invention, the code would be used to dispatch short messages across the world via something called Twitter. Yes, as antiquated as it sounds, a new technology called Tworse Key has been developed that decodes the input from a telegraph key to send Twitter messages using Morse Code.
A happy amalgamation of Telegraphy and Twitter, Tworse Key has been developed by Professor Martin Kaltenbrunner of the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. Developed as an Open Design exercise in interface archaeology (which encourages publicly shared design information), Tworse Key connects the antique interface of the Morse key with Twitter. "The idea," explains Kaltenbrunner, "is to re-establish an obsolete cultural technique within the current practice."
The progression from Telegraphy to Twitter seemed only too natural as in one sense telegraphy is a precursor of the short messaging service. "I believe the Morse key is such a minimal interface with a history of almost 200 years. And, in a way, its limited input possibilities allow us to reflect upon the actual content of our messages before arbitrarily broadcasting it," he says.
||The idea is to re-establish an obsolete cultural technique within the current practice.
— Martin Kaltenbrunner
The Tworse Key is a stand-alone device, which consists of an old Telegraph key that is internally connected to an Ethernet-enabled micro-controller board. By plugging the device into a LAN-connection, it automatically connects to the Internet and allows users to compose and send Twitter messages by using simple Morse code input. "Anybody, who actually knows Morse code, can send tweets using this device," he explains.
Kaltenbrunner used an Arduino Ethernet micro-controller board which allowed him to develop the device. "The system had been in my mind for quite some time and I needed to do a little work on the software and hardware components, such as acquiring an actual Morse key," he says adding, "All-in-all, the whole device can be basically built as a simple weekend project."
He says there has been quite some interest in the project. Accounts using the #tworse hash-tag have surfaced on Twitter and people have also been asking about the device's availability it the market, he says. "At the moment, of course, anybody can build their own device, but I could imagine manufacturing a limited edition of a few original Tworse Keys if there is interest," he adds. Depending on the availability of the parts, the device can be built for around US$ 100 (Rs 5,000).
Kaltenbrunner is now thinking of adapting other obsolete interfaces to be used in a contemporary context. "One device I am planning to build, for example, is a mobile rotary dial to send SMS messages," he concludes.