Wired radio in Moscow

Jim Whitehead ejw@cse.ucsc.edu
Fri, 19 Oct 2001 13:20:30 -0700


http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/18/international/europe/18MOSC.html

The concept, embraced by millions of other Russians, is known as wired
radio, a linear descendant of the loudspeakers that Stalin once hung on
poles in farms, communal apartment houses and villages throughout the Soviet
Union.

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This is a fascintating counter-example for discussions about the "natural"
transmission medium for radio and TV.  I recall discussions about the
inversion of classic transmission forms: phones would go wireless, while TV
& radio would go cable or Internet (the assumption in this context being
that the Internet is wired). Of course, the picture is much more nuanced.

It may be the deciding factor is the nature of our cognition.  We can do
other things while listening to an audio signal, and hence this frees audio
signals to be portable. Portability implies wireless (Tesla's experiments
sending signals through the ground were not successful). It is much harder
to multitask while actively watching a video signal. You'd walk into things,
and people, or crash your car. So, video implies greater cognitive demands,
and at least a temporarily fixed position. This implies either wired or
wireless connections will work. Something like a videophone does imply
wireless, however.

- Jim