Volume 14, No. 2
April 2002

Mercurial Matters

SHOT 2002 in Toronto

Graduate Student Bonus

Survey of Local TV History

News of Mercurians and their Projects

Citizens (Band) of France Unite!

Printing a Revolution?

The End of Books

Reading Red Ochre: Parting Thoughts on Mixed Receptions

Dishing It Up: Really Big Antennas

Journal Announcements

Communications Under the Seas

Contact Us

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Communications Under the Seas

The Dibner Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will feature an exciting conference on “Communications Under the Seas: A Twice-Rejuvenated 19th-Century Technology and its Social Implications.” Bernard Finn (Smithsonian Institution) and Daqing Yang (George Washington University) have organized this event, scheduled for 19-20 April 2002. The description reads:

In the closing decade of the twentieth century we were presented with a world-wide communications system of breathtaking speed and capacity. Economically it was spawned by society’s voracious appetite for information, especially as generated by computers and fed over the Internet. Technologically it was made possible by low-loss optical fibers, an indication of the increasing importance of science in an industry that for its first century paid little attention to research.

The implications of this for society are difficult to predict. Will it bring greater stability to economic markets, or make them more erratic? Will it encourage the expression of multiple voices, or the dominance of a few? Will its net effect be to serve the cause of peace, or of strife? And will the conflict between wired and wireless be settled—at least for the twenty-first century—in favor of the wires, or will the ether (presumably with the assistance of satellites) mount an effective response?

If we cannot foresee how these issues will be played out in the decades ahead, we can at least examine how they have been dealt with in the century and a half behind. Technologically the dominant factors have been speed and bandwidth, in either broadcast or point-to-point format. Socially the major issues can be lumped under questions of access and control.

It is the purpose of this conference to examine the history of international communications, with special emphasis on underseas cables, in order to understand in better fashion the ways that these issues have been dealt with in society. We will not be able to provide solutions for the future, but we should be able to give evidence of the complexities that are bound to surround them.

The conference’s program is available at: <>