Semaphore for Modern Times

For a while now I’ve had an odd feeling that semaphore still had something to tell us. You know, before there were telegraph lines, and a coup was underway in the capital city and this bit of menacing news really needed to get out to good people in the provinces in a hurry. No problem, just use some version or another of semaphore. Lights flashed from hilltop to hilltop would do the trick nicely.

If the code has been prepared. If the hilltop stations were created in advance of the emergency. If they were staffed by loyalists. If the staff had good technical training. If the people in the provinces understood the importance of the message. If they saw ways to respond. And so forth.

Here is the post-Berners-Lee, post-Snowden takeaway:

Messages are easy, easier than ever, but they go nowhere, they are useless, if the network has not been prepared. That network is a piece of open technology and a web of people already aligned with each other and inside each one of them the knowledge, attitude, and skills needed to pitch in. That’s the message I’m getting from semaphore today.

 

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