Friday, September 05, 2003

Puttin' on the Dog

Back in the mid-19th century the hot new communications technology was the telegraph. Jean was explaining to his friend Vaclav that the telegraph was like a dog with its head in Paris and its tail in Prague. When you pull on the dog's tail in Prague, it barks in Paris.

"Oh, yes, I see," said Vaclav, "But then how does it work the other way? Wait, don't tell me...You pat the dog on the head in Paris, and it wags its tail in Prague?"

Many years later, the wireless telegraph (radio) came in, and Ivan asked Vaclav about it. "Oh, that's easy," said Ivan. "You know how you explained the old telegraph to me, with the dog connecting Paris and Prague? Well, this wireless telegraph works exactly the same way, but without the dog."

So why do I bring this up? Because there was a question on the Simputer Development mailing list at Yahoo! Groups about Fidonet for developing countries. Fidonet was a way to do e-mail and file transfers before there was an Internet. People would set up their home computers to answer the phone and accept data transfers from other Fidonet computers, then call up another Fidonet computer and pass the data along. Almost all of the calls could be made for free as local calls, since local calling areas overlap.

Now if you have been following along here, you know that wireless communications technology for villages is the Next Big Thing in global development. See links at the right for more. In some areas, networking will start in the towns where electric power and telephone lines are available. Set up a wireless transceiver in a high place in the town, and another in a village within line-of-sight range. Then you can do it again from that village to villages further from the town, and so on. For villages too far from any other, put in satellite dishes. Mostly this will cost less than $1,000 per village for the wireless equipment and the first Simputer, and that one wireless link will support dozens of Simputers.

Now we have free wireless links in local languages from village to village, to towns, to other towns (over regular Internet connections), to other villages, and we can pass information from any point in the network to any other. So there you are. Free Fidonet, but without the dog.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?