Ham Radio News: Electronic Information Technology and Electronic Publication

The author uses this installment of his regular column to discuss the effect electronic information technology and electronic publication were having on the ham radio community.

| November/December 1981

Electronic information technologies—including video, computer, radio, and data transmission systems—are beginning to have more and more impact on each of our lives. And, although such innovations can provide the means for improved human communication, the powerful tools aren't always benign. When they are used to obscure reality and control people, for example, these technologies can become very dangerous.

Alvin Toffler—in his perceptive book The Third Wave—characterizes our present-day industrial society as a dying "second wave" of civilization and claims that the current is being overtaken rapidly by a third (postindustrial) wave. Although he feels that the process is irreversible, Toffler warns that "agents" of the second wave are still using the whole array of information technologies to try to retard the inevitable decay of their "reign."

Of course, we aren't helpless in the face of such attacks. We can, in fact, counter them by using advanced information technologies to our advantage to help strengthen the growth of the people-oriented third wave. Toffler envisions a decentralized world in which carefully selected technologies serve human purposes. Helping to bring that scenario into being is what the NDR network is all about.

And we've already made some small but significant moves forward! Ham radio networks are alive and well all over the world, while computer bulletin boards and free access databases are springing up in many places. None of these activities could be called a revolutionary "final answer," but each one does serve to carry our consciousness ahead a bit, and may even suggest what the next step might be. The formation of the third wave is an evolutionary, incremental process, so each attempt to apply information technologies to that purpose has definite value.

As I've mentioned here before, some exciting developments in the third-wave movement are likely to stem from linking microcomputer technologies and ham radio. In the next few installments of this column, I plan to report on some of those advances beginning with NDR's new "electronic publication."

The NDR On-Air Bulletin

Once a month, I sit down at the keyboard of my personal computer and type a few hundred words into the machine's memory banks. This cluster of information (which includes the current list of NDR nets and skeds, news of ham activities, material from letters sent by readers of this column, and general news items of interest to NDR members) is stored temporarily in semiconductor chips, ready for instant distribution anywhere in the world.

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