The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International by Daniel R. Headrick

By Daniel R. Headrick

A necessary device of strength, telecommunications is and has regularly been a political know-how. during this ebook, Headrick examines the political background of telecommunications from the mid-nineteenth century to the top of worldwide conflict II. He argues that this know-how gave society new innovations. In occasions of peace, the telegraph and radio have been, as many envisioned, tools of peace; in instances of hysteria, they grew to become tools of politics, instruments for rival pursuits, and guns of battle. Writing in a full of life, available sort, Headrick illuminates the political points of knowledge expertise, displaying how in either global Wars, using radio ended in a shadowy battle of disinformation, cryptography, and communications intelligence, with decisive consequences.

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Extra resources for The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945

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He was associated with all the early Atlantic cable projects and served on the Joint Committee of 1859–60. Realizing that long cables act like condensers that smooth out electrical impulses and make signals hard to read, he devised a way to sharpen signals by sending a short reverse pulse immediately after the main pulse. He also invented better sending and receiving instruments and improved the efficiency of deep-sea soundings. For these and other contributions to physics, he was knighted in 1866 and raised to the peerage as Baron Kelvin in 1892.

If we have learned anything in the past century, it is that technology confers power, but that the consequences of that power are anything but predictable. Characteristics of Electrical Communications The relations between communication and politics are complex, and to make sense of them we first need to identify some of the relevant characteristics of communications systems. Like the mails, point-to-point telecommunications systems convey information to specific recipients. In addition, they have five other important qualities.

British security depended on the Royal Navy and its bases at Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu. Communications, however, were much too slow for London to keep in touch with events in a region prone to sporadic upheavals. 19 As historian John Cell explains, “A telegraphic link with her Mediterranean possessions … would effectively double or treble Britain’s naval strength in the area by enabling it to be brought to bear quickly where it was needed. 21 In March 1854, France and Britain declared war on Russia and proceeded to land troops in the Crimea.

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