3. Qualitative Comparisons: A Brave New World or New World Order?

In the field of mass communication as in almost every other field of enterprise, technological progress has hurt the Little Man and helped the Big Man.

Aldous Huxley, 1958

As we now know, 1983 would not bring Nineteen Eighty-Four; it brought glasnost instead. By the end of the 1980s, it was not democratic dominoes that had tumbled, but the Berlin Wall followed by statues of comrade Lenin. Imposing as they were, these monuments gave substance to Huxley's gloomy vision until the flow of information eroded the foundations on which these structures stood and thus exposed more optimistic prospects.

This section explores why the worst fears did not come to pass. Distinguishing among communication technologies reveals that not all necessarily facilitate the consolidation of power as Huxley among others postulated. Nor is the political influence of technology uniformly neutral as others have surmised. Some technologies tend to favor decentralization and the key is reciprocity. Several communication technologies are compared relative to five fundamental dimensions: mode of communication, message content, inherent boundaries, cost and speed. Electronic networks stand clearly apart with characteristics most conducive to the kind of communication that associates with democracy.

Bad, Good or Indifferent

The succession of the Third Reich by the Soviet Empire as the global pariah fueled the worst of these fears that communication technologies were tools for totalitarians. Both regimes were adept at manipulating the public by manipulating information. In the 1960s, while the superpowers struggled for control of the planet and jousted with the technology that threatened to annihilate it, the means to collect and disseminate information were widely regarded as ill-boding implements which strengthened "Big Brother's" malevolent grip on society. Even in the West, from Vietnam to Watergate, evidence impugned technological progress which, arguably, governments had maliciously co-opted for weapon technologies and wiretaps. A man on the moon also meant a spy in the sky. A year before Neil Armstrong planted his famous footprint on the moon, Zbigniew Brzezinski shared Huxley's pessimism.
[T]he capacity to assert social and political control over the individual will vastly increase. It will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and to maintain up-to-date, complete files, containing even most personal information about the health or personal behavior of the citizen in addition to more customary data. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities (1971: 163).
Current statistical evidence supports Gorbachev's more optimistic hypothesis that "it is virtually impossible for any society to be 'closed.'" However, this does not necessarily contradict the troubling predictions of a generation earlier. Communication technologies that were new in the 1950s and 60s differ markedly from those available today, and in fundamental ways.

Optimism and pessimism regarding the effect of communication technology on the nature of government have cycled with the wheel of invention. The prevailing attitude regarding communications technologies at beginning of this century may have been closer to that of Gorbachev at the end than to that of Huxley in the middle. The innovative communications technology of growing consequence in the early 1900s was the telephone. A key figure in the development of the American telephone and one of the prominent spokesmen of the day, General John J. Carty, expected the device to ring in a utopian age. In his anonymous column called "The Prophet's Corner" in the journal Electrical Engineering, he envisioned a time when

[W]e will build up a world telephone system making necessary to all peoples the use of a common language, or a common understanding of languages, which will join all the people of the earth into one brotherhood (Pool, 1983a: 89).

An alternative view of communication technologies suggests that, rather than leading to either a brighter or a dimmer future, they might not lead anywhere. The effect of these technologies may be indeterminate. After having watched several of the Newly Independent States besmirch their newly won freedom with malicious nationalism and internecine violence, Shane concluded that

Despite our wishful thinking, technology remains a maddeningly neutral tool, as it has been since man discovered that fire could preserve life or destroy it. The Soviet television tower at Ostankino could broadcast with equal efficiency the numbing speeches of Brezhnev or the electrifying iconoclasm of Vzglyad[1] (1994: 282).

Even Aldous Huxley was wont to succumb to ambivalence.

Mass communication, in a word, is neither good nor bad; it is simply a force and, like any other force, it can be used either well or ill. Used in one way, the press, the radio and the cinema are indispensable to the survival of democracy. Used in another way, they are among the most powerful weapons in the dictator's armory (1958: 39).
Painting all communication technologies with one brush fails to account for salient differences between them. To be fair, today's communication technologies, which arguably entail unprecedented potential for supporting democracy, did not exist when Huxley wrote. Nevertheless, arguments that communication technologies are neutral may be valid, but only when considering the technologies in the aggregate. Specific communication technologies, given their ease of exploitation by certain political entities over others, tend to confer relative political advantage. For example, Shane recognized that Vzglyad and its cousin programs were able to broadcast only at the pleasure of the Brezhnev's government and that of his successors. Television was primarily a tool of the ruling elite, not the democratic movement. This is pointedly clear from his anecdote of the Moscow kindergartner who replied, when asked to define the word "coup" a few days after the failed attempt in 1991, "That's when they show all the same thing at the same time on all channels." (1994: 255)

"Soft technological-determinism" is the term that distinguished communications scholar, Ithiel de Sola Pool, used to understand and characterize the effects of centuries of changing communication technologies.

Freedom is fostered when the means of communication are dispersed, decentralized, and made easily available, as are printing presses or microcomputers. Central control is more likely when the means of communication are concentrated, monopolized and scarce, as are great networks[2] (1983: 5).

Comparing Communication Technologies

The key is reciprocity. To the extent that the inherent characteristics of a communication technology enable others to respond readily and easily via the same medium and to the same audience, that particular technology can facilitate the aspirations of those who would seek to bring about democratic change. To the extent that characteristics of a technology inhibit reciprocity, these aspirations can be more easily frustrated. Pool enumerated several dimensions by which technologies can be identified as facilitating or inhibiting democracy. Pool's list included economic, geographic and system architecture considerations. Relative to these dimensions and to a few others, it is helpful to compare and distinguish the democratizing potential of the most common communication technologies.

Table 3.1, displays the qualitative results of these comparisons and illustrates striking differences. The unit of analysis is a subjective measure of each technology's capacity to support an "ordinary" individual who would receive and respond to a specific message of interest originating in another country in a distant region of the world. Darker shading indicates greater capacity for reciprocity in each of the five major categories. The objective of the chart is contrast, not precision. Thus, while the particular shade of individual cells may be arguable, e-mail unequivocally stands apart from its predecessors as being more conducive to reciprocity in communication.

Table 3.1
Comparison of Communications Media

Mode

Technological innovation in communication has historically improved the flow of information in one of two measures, distance and area. These two dimensions also correspond to the axis of Figure 2.1. The telegraph and telephone stretched the distance across which individuals could exchange messages. Radio and television widened the area of message transmission. The conquest over distance has improved the capability of discourse--defined here as bi-directional communication--intrinsic to functioning free market operations and treaty negotiations between authorities of sovereign states. The conquest over area has improved the capacity for information dissemination--uni-directional communication--by which hierarchical institutions maintain control over rank-and-file members and societal leaders influence their constituencies.[3] Before the information revolution, the distinction between discourse and dissemination appeared to be inviolable. The telephone, for instance, has been largely as ineffective for disseminating information on a large scale as has the television for engaging in discourse.[4][5]

Recalling Figure 2.1, the pursuit of democracy summons the capabilities of both discourse and dissemination but also demands something qualitatively different. Conceptually, democratic processes rely on discourse for compromise, but closed one-to-one deal-making can impair the confidence necessary for consensus building. A politically aware electorate requires mechanisms for information dissemination, but a limited number of "ones" controlling the one-to-many broadcasts can undermine the free flow of information. Public debate--multi-directional communication--is a democracy-enabling synergy of discourse and dissemination. The essence of multi-directional communication is that all people who receive information via a certain channel can participate equally within the complete and identical context of the discussion. Indeed, the expressed goal for the Internet's predecessor, the ARPANET, was that "It should effectively allow the illusion that those in communication with one another are all within the same soundproofed room" (Baran, 1964: 1).

Another term commonly used to describe multi-directional communication has been "many-to-many" to distinguish this mode from broadcast, which is labeled one-to-many, and from telephony, which can be thought of as many one-to-ones. However, the number-to-number terminology risks misinterpretation. The connotation of "many" in one-to-many can be the billion or so people around the globe who watch soccer's World Cup. Although the electronic newsletter China News Digest boasts of 35,000 subscribers (Tempest, 1995: H/2), many-to-many in the World Cup scale would be impossibly unwieldy. More importantly, quantifying the number of participants misses the most critical aspect of multi-directional communication. Independent of how many people are involved--even if there are only three, e-mail technology creates a different dynamic and thus can be expected to have differing social and political outcomes. Figure 3.1, below, provides a schematic diagram of the three modes of communication in the cross-border context.


Figure 3.1-Schematic Modes of Communication

It is interesting to note that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically addresses each of these three modes as fundamental to the practice of democracy: the right to petition the government pertains to the bi-directional nature of discourse, particularly between the citizen and the state; freedom of the press provides for unfettered uni-directional dissemination of information; the right to assemble preserves the multi-directional quality of public debate.

In successful public debate, each participant is able to hear and be heard. Additionally, each participant may refrain from immediate expression while retaining the opportunity to subsequently exercise this right and capability. Democracy archetypes, the amphitheater of ancient Greece or the town meeting of colonial New England, offer appropriate metaphors. There is no comparable meeting place in democratizing nation states. Neither telephone discourse nor television dissemination provides adequate technological support. Computer networks alone successfully blend these capabilities into virtual town halls.[6]

Pool foresaw the confluence of communication technologies even before computer networks had proliferated.

[C]onvergence of modes is blurring the lines between media, even between point-to-point communications, such as the post, telephone, and telegraph, and mass communications, such as the press, radio, and television. A single physical means--be it wires, cables or airwaves--may carry services that in the past were provided in separate ways. Conversely, a service that was provided in the past by any one medium--be it broadcasting, the press, or telephony--can now be provided in several different physical ways. So the one-to-one relationship that used to exist between a medium and its use is eroding (Pool, 1993b: 23).

Pool's focus is on the media of transmission, that microwaves would be used for both telephone and radio, for instance. The empowering reality, however, may be a bit more subtle. Another important convergence is materializing within a terminal device. A computer can be used to achieve the ends of both a telephone and a television, thus achieving multi-directionality. The medium of transmission may be optical fiber, satellite link, coaxial cable, twisted copper wires, or more likely some combination (completely transparent to participants). The closest approximation to multi-directional communication among the conventional technologies is perhaps a conference call with all its obvious timing, geographic and size limitations. Historical examples might be short-wave and citizen's band radio, which never had staying power in the mainstream. Computer terminals are the first widely used telecommunications devices able to support multi-directional democracy-minded public debate, as was witnessed, for example, in Russia.

From this perspective, as before, the Ayatollah Khomeni's extensive use of audiocassettes in his non-democratic Iranian revolution of 1979 is again revealed as a false counter-example. Khomeni's cassettes did not allow for reciprocal exchange and are therefore more closely analogous to uni-directional radio than to multi-directional e-mail networks. Networks are also precisely what Shane overlooks in his claim that "Information demonstrated an awesome capacity for destruction of the existing order-but no equivalent capacity for creation" (1994: 280). His oversight is not uncommon. Theodore Roszak wrote, in The Cult of Information,

the computer lends itself all too conveniently to the subversion of democratic values.... A few of these [applications], like the networking capacity and educational possibilities of the microcomputer, have been seized upon by the hopeful democratic spirits like the guerrilla hackers; but such minimal and marginal uses of the computer are simply dwarfed into insignificance by its predominant applications (1986, 180).
Roszak's book was published in 1986, when the exponential growth of networks was still barely noticeable. Similarly, according to Peter Huber in Orwell's Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest, missing the reciprocal capacity of networking in telescreen technology was "Orwell's biggest mistake" (1994: 223).

Content

An apparent dichotomy of communication technologies also exists in message content: images versus structured data. The difference between the two can be conceived as the difference between a melody and a musical score, a graph and the plotted data, a speech and the written text, an atomic particle trace and its mathematical model. Traditionally, people are most comfortable communicating through images, visual, aural, tactile or olfactory. Images can evoke powerful emotions, potentially in greater proportion than the information alone absent the images might arouse. This is the phenomenon behind the "CNN effect" altering national priorities. Images can leave long lasting impressions like songs that linger in the mind or scents that summon forgotten memories. Images can communicate efficiently for a "picture is worth a thousand words." In contrast, structured data are often opaque to an average observer, like a page of numbers or a stream of computer bits. Yet, structured data offers other advantages. It is malleable and machine-readable; it can be retrieved, filtered, ordered and altered and then re-transmitted in ways that are not possible with images.

Alexander Graham Bell engaged the contentious images-versus-data debate a century ago hawking his vision of a widespread telephone system overseas in England. He claimed,

All other telegraph machines produce signals which require to be translated by experts, and such instruments are therefore extremely limited in their application, but the telephone actually speaks, and for this reason it can be utilized for nearly every purpose for which speech is employed (Fagen, 1975: 21).
Today's fans of the fax echo the telephone inventor's initial excitement now that visual images can also be transmitted across telephone lines.

Detractors, such as Nicholas Negroponte, however, lament the fact that information received by fax is neither manipulable nor reusable. Exemplifying this shortcoming, the fax itself can be resent but successive degradation in its quality is irreversible because the essence of the transmission is only dark spots and light spots, not letters and numbers.

The fax is a step backward because it does not contain "structured data," but rather an image of text that is no more computer-readable than this page of Wired [a magazine] (unless you are reading it on America On-line [an e-mail service]). Even though the fax was delivered as bits before it is rendered as an image on paper, those bits have no symbolic value (Negroponte, 1994: 134).
Confronted with exponentially increasing information flows, the ability to manipulate and filter messages becomes critical to produce order instead of overload.

Only in the context of electronic mail does this distinction between images and structured data become immaterial and the choice between them prove unnecessary. This is another result of convergence. While radio, telephone and television can play the music, and posted mail, newspapers and faxes can display the notes, computers can do both. "[A]s the world's information becomes digitized, those packets can carry every thing that humans can perceive and machines can process--voice, high fidelity sound, text, high resolution color graphics, computer programs, data, full motion video" (Rheingold, 1993: 74). Electronic messages can be both appreciated as images and manipulated as data.[7]

Arousing images have long been used to incite political change. During the Cold War, in the name of democracy, radio and television waves were modulated with America's message and consigned to breach the Iron Curtain. More recently, President Clinton responded to criticism that he had betrayed the democratic movement in China with a proposal to "tell freedom's story to the people of China. We will launch Radio Free Asia, increase the Voice of America radio broadcasts to China and inaugurate a weekly VOA television program to report on developments" (1994b: B5). To these ends, information revolution technologies can be more effective, combining images with structured data, thus creating a multiplier effect. The democratic message becomes replicable, adaptable and redirectable, almost effortlessly. The medium also provides for accountability and permanence of messages. The messages themselves are tractable to analysis and verification. These are all capabilities which weaken a dictator's iron hand.

Boundaries

Geography bounds conventional communications physically as do state institutions functionally. Post office addresses and telephone numbers are specific to certain locations. Forwarding offers some limited freedom, likewise for certain innovations such as cellular telephones, remotely accessible answering machines, voice mail and beepers. Mass media, by design, can cover large swaths of the earth, but conventional publishing and broadcasting sites are hardly mobile. Transistor radios, video cameras, video cassette recorders and portable satellite dishes have all shown significant improvements, but none compares in geographic independence with the seamlessness of global electronic computer networks. Discarding the need for geographic proximity, or even awareness of it, certain applications such as the World Wide Web and Gopher deliver information which makes the location or even country of origin completely transparent and irrelevant to the networker. Natural and human-designated boundaries dissolve.

Distinguishing itself from an ordinary postal mailbox, an e-mail box can be accessible to its owner from anywhere on the earth via another networked computer. Such geographic independence is particularly liberating for itinerant individuals who cross borders often pursuing an international agenda. While circumnavigating the planet three times, writer Carl Malamud, described continuous correspondences in his "technical travelogue" (Malamud, 1993). The author of this dissertation regularly accessed his own account in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from cities throughout Central Asia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Erratic itineraries did not disrupt daily communications because worldwide colleagues could simply send messages to an unchanging e-mail address while remaining blissfully oblivious to the tribulations of traveling in Eurasia.

Functional bottlenecks of traditional communication technologies allow ruling elites of nation-states to exercise and reinforce central authority. "The only contact between self-contained national [telecommunication] systems was through the conjoint provision of international services arranged upon the basis of bilateral operation agreements between the PTTs [Post, Telephone and Telegraph]" (Genschel and Werle, 1993: 207). As previously noted, this type of institutional structure enables dictatorial regimes, like the former Soviet Union, to constrain the number of international connections and maintain control over cross-border dialogue.

In contrast, electronic networks were designed as "distributed" and "adaptive." The underlying architecture of the ARPANET, precursor to the Internet, was conceived at RAND specifically to protect the integrity of military command and control structures in the case of an attack against the United States (Baran, 1964). Its architecture was such that it "would have no central authority. Furthermore, it would be designed from the beginning to operate while in tatters" (Sterling, 1993). Peter Lewis, journalist for the New York Times, extolled the virtues of distributed communication to protect dissident writers. He wrote "because information travels in `packets' of data that are typically scattered and reassembled at the receiving site, it is much harder to intercept or trace messages." Along with individual writers, local opposition groups and international non-governmental organizations are learning how to use new communication technologies to circumvent borders. Among numerous examples he could have cited, Lewis quoted Gara LaMarche, associate director of the Human Rights Watch, who recognized that "The notion of using the Internet to transcend international boundaries that have been used to suppress information is a visionary one" (Lewis, 1994: E18).

In addition, not only are the new information technologies harder for authoritarian regimes to control, but even if they could exercise control, doing so would require such drastic measures that a regime might be forced to choose between undesired political liberalization or disastrous economic consequences (Builder, 1993: 163). Whereas the ensuing trials of two formerly powerful presidents in economically successful South Korea exemplify the former, neighboring North Korea's continued isolation and predicted starvation is an enduring example of the latter.

Costs

The information revolution is rightly described also as a devolution. Once the high-cost advanced technologies were accessible only to the political and media elite, precluding any glint of egalitarian reciprocity. Decades of innovation and technological trickle-down eventually handed over Prometheus's torch from the governments to the people. Bearing the fire of information and communication, private individuals are now economically able to illuminate the workings of governments, enlighten fellow citizens and brighten a path toward democracy.

Distributed networks dispersed centers of control, and silicon chips, the raw material of which is sand, shrank the marginal costs of information and communication. As if technology has switched allegiances, the dissemination, collection and interpretation of information is no longer the exclusive prerogative of rich governments. The satellite pictures of Chernobyl on the front pages of newspapers around the world which compelled the Soviet Union to recant its deceitful initial damage assessments were the work of a privately owned French satellite, SPOT (Wriston, 1989: 70). A private videotape of police brutality against Rodney King impugned state institutions in the U.S. Integrated circuits and PCs locate as much computer processing power on desks in private homes as had been in some government research labs. Although the fabrication facilities are still quite expensive, miniaturized marginal costs and economies of scale in the production of microchips and integrated circuits have made personal computers, personal copiers, personal fax machines and even personal satellite reception dishes available to the general public at reasonable prices.

Both fixed and marginal costs of communication are plummeting. New generation equipment prices are lower than that of their predecessors by several orders of magnitude. Satellite dishes, for example, decreased in price from $250,000 to $500 and video cassette recorders from $30,000 to $300 (Ganley, 1991: 6). The capital expenditure for an individual to start sending messages overseas varies tremendously by medium. A PC and modem for e-mail, which now cost in the hundreds of dollars--compared to thousands of dollars in the recent past--are somewhere in the vast middle, yet nearer to the cost of an airmail stamp than to a television studio.

While the face value of postage stamps continue to rise, the cost per message of media has dropped dramatically in real terms. "In New York City 1896, phone service cost $20 a month, compared to the average worker's income of $38.50 a month" (Pool, 1983a: 22). International calls are still expensive relative to domestic calls. The standard tariff to Russia from the United States is $2.27 per minute, for instance, compared to $0.28 for a coast-to-coast domestic call within the United States.[8] In the United States, as in much of the developed world, international calling is considered an "enhanced" service, the price of which is artificially high to subsidize the universal "basic" service on the local exchange. Competition in the international realm is likely to erode such pricing policies and the contrived barrier between domestic and international telephone connections (Bruce, et al., 1986: 2).

For several decades now, the ability of anyone on the planet to communicate with anyone else was technically but not practically feasible. An earth-shrinking breakthrough of computer networks is the reduction in per-message cost. The price of an electronic message entered into the network via a local phone call is independent of the destination (and often free to the user), whether across the street or across the ocean. Under these tariff systems, e-mail compares in cost quite favorably to phone or fax for international communication. Yet, as already noted, these prices historically have been distorted. In the United States, the price of dialing internationally has been inflated while messaging on the Internet has been federally subsidized. This observation should not be overstated, however, for three reasons. First, the Internet subsidy is less than often assumed. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason and Hal Varian at the University of Michigan calculated the average subsidy in the United States at less than $20 per year per host and less than $2 per year per user (MacKie-Mason and Varian, 1993: 5). That would pay for only a single one-minute phone call to Moscow. Second, the marginal cost of a message across the electronic networks is vanishingly small. "If the network is not saturated the incremental cost of sending additional packets is essentially zero"[9] (MacKie-Mason and Varian, 1993: 5). Third, these particular market distortions are not present in many developing countries where the marginal benefits of enhanced interconnectivity may be greatest. The asking price for a reliable phone connection to the United States from Uzbekistan, for instance, was $7 in the summer of 1993. An e-mail message equivalent to one typed page cost $0.15 via Relcom. Furthermore, across "dirty" telephone lines common in developing countries, on which the need to shout to be heard is not exceptional, error correction protocols ensure the integrity of the e-mail message. The comparative cost of a fax must often be doubled or tripled for repeat calls in order to obtain enough legible segments to constitute a complete document.

Total programmatic cost comparisons are also illuminating. In 1993, the National Science Foundation (NSF) was spending at a rate of $18.5 million per year for a clientele estimated at 10 million users (MacKie-Mason and Varian, 1993: 4). In the same year, the Board for International Broadcasting granted more than 10 times that amount, $218 million, to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) (the model for Radio Free Asia) for private broadcasting activities.[10] In China, for the President's proposal to have a comparable effect per dollar of expenditure as has been demonstrated on the Internet, it would have to reach more than 100 million (one in ten) Chinese citizens--and be interactive.

Speed

Time and distance warp in the information revolution. As if a domestic version of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is being demonstrated in homes, schools and offices, travel between two points is no longer measured in hours or miles. Electronic messages travel at light speed, 186,000 miles per second. The only technologies that rival e-mail as a versatile message carrier, post offices and courier services, cannot carry current information. The former is notorious for anachronistic slowness. A posted letter to Russia may still spend two months or more en route--if it reaches its destination at all. Expensive express delivery services still require days or at least a night and ignore large patches of the populated planet. At the other end of the timeliness spectrum, radio and television commonly broadcast live. However, instantaneous does not imply spontaneous. If the intended audience is not notified in advance and tuned in at the right moment, the broadcast message may be lost into the cosmos. Telephones and facsimile machines operate in real time for a narrow bandwidth. Yet, even telephone messages are often delayed to obtain an available international line or for someone to be available to pick up the receiver in a distant time zone. Answering machines and programmable VCRs are limited ad hoc "store and forward" solutions. Email combines the speed of satellite links with the patience of delivery boys who wait by the door until the message is picked up. For the first time ever, any human being can engage in near-real time communication with any other human being anywhere.[11]


[1] Vzglyad which means "Glance," is a popular Russian expos television program.

[2] It is important to recognize that the word "network" as Pool used it here refers to large physical networks, such as those in broadcasting, and not to virtual electronic networks as the term is used throughout this dissertation.

[3] For a more thorough presentation of the means and efficiencies of markets, institutions and networks, see Ronfeldt (1993).

[4] A "Pleasure Telephone" to be used as a mass media device providing news, music and information was attempted in Budapest around the turn of the century and in Newark before the First World War. Both experiments proved unsuccessful primarily because the cost was too high and the medium did not lend itself to advertising (Pool 1983a: 82).

[5]"Interactive Television" is not "discourse" in the usual sense of the term. Although information flows in two directions, the information content is greatly restricted to selecting predetermined menu items as opposed to free exchange of ideas. Nor do radio and television talk shows qualify as "discourse." A limited number of host-selected participants address their one-shot on-the-air question or comment to the show hosts. The medium does not allow for continuing give-and-take among participants.

[6] The store and forward capability of facsimile machines presaged the combination of discourse and dissemination in one device. However, there is no respond-to-all capability. Additionally, the reliance on images prohibits effective message manipulation and is likely to cause degradation in the integrity of the message with repeated sendings particularly in the developing world where the phone lines are very noisy.

[7] The union of images with information is the source of profound advancement in society according to some scholars. Paraphrasing Derek J. de Solla Price, Karl W. Deutsch writes, "Western Science, and its offshoots, modern science, it has persuasively been argued, have derived from the marriage, in Hellenistic times, of the visual imagination of classical Greek science with the computational skills of the Babylonians; and the ever renewed union of new feats of visualization with computations that ever since has accompanied the development of mathematics, and of all the sciences" (Deutsch, 1963: 23).

[8] These representative prices were quoted by Sprint, Inc. in April 1986.

[9] MacKie-Mason and Varian argue that when the networks are not congested, the marginal costs of transporting additional packets along the medium are negligible. The primary costs that concern them are the delays during congestion at the bottleneck routers.

[10] The figures are available in the United States Budget for Fiscal Year 1995, p. 861.

[11] The author is indebted to RAND colleague Jeff Rothenberg for observing that real time communication between human beings anywhere may only be a temporary historical anomaly. Once humans begin to venture off the planet, vast distances measured in light-minutes or light-hours will again introduce technologically unavoidable transmission delays. The capability for instantaneous and spontaneous communication may exist only for a century or two.


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