1916 __ Proposal for a relay network of American radio amateurs
‣ Comment : The proposal for a US-wide network of radio amateurs linked by a system of relay stations, by Hiriam Percy, Q.S.T., Feb. 1916. With such a network, wireless messages could be transmitted beyond the range of individual stations to every place in the US. The idea for a permanent network was not realized but the principle of “forwarding” messages was customary among the amateurs. [...] Whereas in the amateur wireless net, human beings (i.e., the amateurs) recorded and forwarded messages, this process is now automated by the computer in the Internet. Without further differentiating these two technologies, however, let us focus on the politically motivated common ground between both of these network projects. In 1916, the US stood at the brink of World War I. For the first time in American history, the US was confronted with the risk of an attack on its territory. In the service of their country, radio amateurs proposed a network that would secure nation-wide communication if the telegraph lines and large wireless stations on the coast were destroyed. The core element of this idea was that connections would be maintained if individual stations were destroyed since transmissions could reach their goal over alternative routes. This concept of a quasi-indestructible network corresponds to the extensive arguments for introducing the ARPANET in the 1950s; a network that was supposed to preserve communication in the case of an atomic war in Cold War times. On the other hand, there are fundamental differences between these two network models. The ARPANET and its consequent transformation to the Internet were government initiatives. The official structure was converted into a private communication medium step by step-a medium that today we take for granted like the mail or the newspaper. In contrast, the 1916 proposal emerged from a grass roots movement of amateurs who were dedicated to the medium of radio out of pure enthusiasm. Before 1912, there were no federal regulations for wireless in the US and compared to Europe, there were extensive possibilities for anyone to use the ether. This sometimes caused chaotic situations-navy operators and amateur stations debating on the air about who had the right to stay on a particular frequency. (Dieter Daniels)
‣ Source : Daniels, Dieter (2004), “Interaction versus Consumption: Mass Media and Art from 1920 to today”, In Schöpf. C. & Stocker G. (Eds). TIMESHIFT- The World in. 25 Years, pp. 146-152.
‣ Urls : http://visions.cz/content/download/17463/57193/version/2/file/daniels.pdf (last visited )
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