21 June, 2021

Wire Art Thou?

Entire cities unplugged. Earthly life is truly conducted up in the air.

Illustrations by Sorit
Wire Art Thou?
The '70s ushered in the idea of the Negroponte Switch in the world of communication technologies. It was named after digital age guru Nicholas Negroponte, of MIT Media Labs, who had predicted: "What is in the air will go under the ground. And what is underground will go into the air. More and more television will go through cables than over airwaves, and more and more telephone will use airwaves instead of copper wires buried along roads."

In India, as elsewhere, the Negroponte Switch is near-complete. We now have over 200 million cellular phone connections over wireless networks as compared to less than 40 million fixed phone connections; and 85 million cable-TV households as against only 40 million receiving television directly from the nearest transmitter.

How did the 'cellular revolution' come about? The simple reason is: the average person is mobile outside home and office, town and country, and needs to stay connected. Personal mobile communication was the mother of 'killer apps', appealing to people of all ages, gender,...

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