Monday 8 February 2010

Lecture Three: Networks

People working in the US Federal Reserve are the first to learn of the start of Operation Desert Storm on the night of January 16 as the impact of the conflict on the US economy appears on their bright computer displays. They sit and watch the effects from minute to minute.

At another American location, far from the Kuwaiti Theatre of Operations, personnel in the AT&T Network Operations Centre in New York are following the outbreak of the war on an electronic map of their worldwide telecommunications systems. The circuits to Baghdad suddenly go dead at 7.30pm, Eastern Standard Time. Then the map lights up with record calling volumes to Saudi Arabia.

Welcome to CNN...

This is a historical overview of how network planning and development has influenced communication – from the telegraph and the newspaper to speed commerce through to the establishment of ARPANET as a US defence strategy, networks have extended the range of our senses but also compromised them – as weapons systems, banking systems, home entertainment and design strategies draw increasingly upon the same operating platforms, the neutrality of the network is something to question.

Context themes to be covered: politics, psychology, ethics, power

Useful reading and sites worth visiting:
‘Cybernetic Serendipity’ catalogue PDF
Tim Lenoir and Henry Lowood, ‘Theaters Of War: The Military-Entertainment Complex PDF
Vannevar Bush, ‘As We May Think’
The Sputnik Observatory
The Edge
The War Room
War Is Virtual Hell
Cloud computing: how information giants are setting the pace for the internet's next decade

See Also:
Olaf Arndt: ‘Labyrinth and Camp’
Welcome to the Labyrinth

Pictured above: Paul Baran’s sketch for centralized, decentralized and distributed networks, courtesy of An Atlas of Cyberspaces


Oat said...

I find your lectures truely inspiring. Like tasters of fresh bakery in a coffee shop, they kept me wanting more. who would have know the critical context could be this delicious!

looking forward to this one!

Ken Hollings said...

Oat - many thanks for the kind comment, but your mention of coffee shops and bakeries also reminds me that I haven't had my breakfast yet. See you at 10.00!

jtreg said...

I liked listing to the repeat of the discussion you took part in at the Foundry repeated on ResonanceFM on social networking on Tuesday evening.

By the way, I was encouraged by my father to go to the ICA in 1968 to see Cybernetic Serendipity. It awoke me to computers which I have worked in most of my life. A wonderful day in my life. Did you go along to it? Best wishes jtreg

Ken Hollings said...

Wow - have Resonance already broadcast the 'Pathological Over-Sharing' panel? I asked them to give me some advance warning so I could post something about it on this blog. Oh well - glad you managed to catch it anyway,treg.

No, I'm afraid I never had the chance to vist Cybernetic Serendipity - it all seemed to take place in a distant, far more glamourous universe than any one I ever inhabited. But how marvellous that you were actually there - if you felt like writing up your memory of the exhibition, I'd be happy to put a link to it from this blog - I'm sure it would make for some fascinating reading.