The Wright Brothers: A Great Collaboration

Blrt has spoiled us when it comes to communication, so we’re always left in awe when we think about how some of mankind’s greatest advances came about in a pre-Blrt world. In the case of Wilbur and Orville Wright we’re not even talking about the headaches of playing phone tag. No, the Wright Brothers ushered in the age of aviation by collaborating through the post and via telegram. Talk about doing it tough!

The #WrightBrothers were a truly great #collaboration. Click To Tweet

We think they might have got off the ground a little sooner had they had Blrt:

The Wright Brothers are known for achieving the first powered, heavier-than-air manned and controlled flight in 1903. You’ll notice that we’ve worded that achievement in a very specific way. This is because the title of “first in flight” is still a matter of some debate even to this day, with some historians crediting various other aviation pioneers – Gustave Whitehead, in particular – with different and as carefully-worded achievements.

The Wright Brothers: Old school collaborators

Though they lived and did much of their designing and planning in Dayton, Ohio, the first flight on December 17, 1903 actually occurred at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Kitty Hawk was selected as the Wright Brothers’ proving ground because of reportedly sustained breezes and ample sand dunes that would allow for softer landings during early tests. Naturally, this isn’t information that they were able to find in less than a second on Google.

Rather, they relied on collaboration that required telegram and letter writing and waiting on the post to deliver hard-copy meteorological data. Unable to use Google street view to check out the surrounding area, the brothers relied on the written word of the local weather station manager and the promises of the postmaster. Luckily the information they provided proved to be true!

The #WrightBrothers were old school collaborators. Click To Tweet

Though many engineers and inventors were working on the “flight problem” at the same time as the Wright Brothers, there was no efficient way for everybody to collate their research and build upon it collectively. This, of course, is the very essence of collaboration and may be the reason that two brothers were able to accomplish what no individual had yet achieved. A collaborative team in the truest sense, the weakness of one brother was a strength for the other, allowing them to push each other ever further forward and into the sky.

Spread the news… eventually

The same communication shortfalls that slowed progress for the Wright Brothers also made it difficult to break the news of their achievement. Naturally, the news of the first flight was not broken in a tweet. Rather, it was modestly reported to Wilbur and Orville’s father, Milton, via telegram with the suggestion to “inform press” included almost as if it were an afterthought:

The Wright Borthers broke the news of the first flight not with a tweet, but via telegram

The problem, even for the Wright Brothers, is that communication was so difficult to disseminate in that time that the brothers’ successful first flight wasn’t picked up by newspapers because there was no proof and most journalists didn’t believe their achievement to be possible in the first place. Even their hometown paper didn’t run the story and in Europe they were declared liars.

The news of the #WrightBrothers #FirstFlight was broken via #telegram. Click To Tweet

This suited the brothers fine at the time. Say what you want about the advances made in communications, it was at least much easier for the brothers to protect their trade secrets in the absence of a thousand phone cameras. Eager to keep their rapid engineering advances private so they could eventually be sold to the military, the brothers actually ceased flying for some time. They wouldn’t even fly for the government in the absence of a signed bill of sale.

Beyond the first flight

The brothers continued to work on their design in those years after the first flight but they soon found themselves needing to tend to the business and legal matters that were arising around their manufacturing efforts and patents. The two brothers would often find themselves in different cities and still without Blrt as a tool to share their notes and thoughts.

The brothers engaged in a substantial amount of hard-copy correspondence. The collection of their papers at The Library of Congress totals over 10,000 pieces and includes sketches, diaries, notebooks, and letters between Wilbur and Orville as well as to and from other aviation pioneers such as Octave Chanute. It seems pretty obvious to us that Blrt would have helped the brothers stay on top of all this [philosophical thought: if there were no planes that could reach the cloud, could we still store our data there?].

It’s incredible to think that Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved man’s first powered flight in an age when they only had telegrams to inform their parents and that less than 70 years later Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon with a piece of their first flyer in his pocket. Now we live in an age where I can instantly inform my parents in the USA that I had a burrito for lunch and include several pictures as proof.

We’re all pioneers in our own way, people.

About Blrt

At Blrt we’re communication pioneers and we think the Wright Brothers would have dug our collaborative style. The lost value of non-verbal communication has been one of the driving forces behind Blrt – we realised that the remote collaboration process desperately needed humanising, so Blrt was born to bring voice and gesture back to digital communication.

Blrt is a communications platform, with mobile and desktop interfaces. It enables people to get their point across quickly, by talking, pointing and drawing over images, documents and websites. The result is a video-like recording that can be shared with others, called a Blrt, that requires much less bandwidth than video.

Blrt recreates the way people communicate face-to-face, providing a better, more human method of working with others remotely. Once recorded, Blrts are stored in the cloud and are exchanged with others in a conversation-like fashion. A record is kept of the exchange and new parties and media can be added at any time.

Blrt shifts time and place, allowing anyone, anywhere to participate in their own time, while maintaining conversational continuity and communication clarity by capturing hand gestures like pointing, zooming and drawing in sync with their voice. In an era where activity-based working and distributed teams are commonplace, Blrt has revolutionised the way people interact to get things done.

Get everyone on the same page

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