Monday, June 13, 2011

Ice Storm Disrupts Communication

Yesterday a series of ice and electrical storms disrupted telegraph communications. This disruption of service lead to news papers being incomplete, a great delay in personal correspondence, and ultimately to huge delays in the rail network. Because dispatchers for the Rail Roads were not able to get location information or give out order trains ended up sitting where they were until communication could be restored.

This disruption in service ultimately was the result of the hierarchical structure of the telegraph and rail networks. In both cases single avenues of communication are maintained. This means that when the single line is cut everything stops. This hierarchical structure is not necessary however. if we decentralized the telegraph lines, meaning there were many more lines going to a great diversity of places there would be some inherent redundancy in the event of line failure. Rail Roads on the other hand could run shorter distances more frequently, meaning that centralized dispatchers would not be necessary, as local dispatchers could take care of their own region and work together via a central planing committee with each other for longer travel. So while longer travel might slow down if telegraph lines failed, it would not come to a complete stop.

These types of problems are really a result of the hierarchical world we currently live in. If we chose to decentralize authority, these problems would be greatly mitigated. In a world with out hierarchy we would not only be more resilient to disaster but would live freer lives, with No Gods and No Masters.

Great Storm Cuts Off South And West [The New York Tribune]

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