Who gets the third phone, I ?

The Networking-effect, not anything else than spiraling what does already exist ….

… though here as with any kind of this effect the fundamental question is about hen, egg …, and the rooster, at some stage pretending that he (yes, he) is the real creator of everything. One may reword the question and ask:

Who gets the third phone?

In case this sounds strange, a brief explanation will do: the network effect is often explained by making reference to the phone:

  • Having one phone, just being the first and only one, is surely an exiting thing in terms of holding a device in your hand that is potentially a world changer, though it is equally frustrating as it value depends on somebody else also having a phone.
  • In actual fact, being the second having such device is …, well, it is probably the same person as the one who has the first because it is necessary to have two devices to test and proof that “it works” – From Ray Tomlinson, who had been working on this, we learn the following:

The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.

These first messages were sent in late 1971. The next release of TENEX went out in early 1972 and included the version of SNDMSG with network mail capabilities. The CPYNET protocol was soon replaced with a real file transfer protocol having specific mail handling features. Later, a number of more general mail protocols were developed.

http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/ka10.html, there with courtesy Dan Murphey.

  • Being the third who owns a phone, makes a decisive difference: it is the step “beyond the idea”, the moment of take off: if it is …, well, we may call it a “social decision first order”, it is the want to be in touch with somebody even if that person is not physically present; we may say there is another option, let us call it “social decision second order” – this is the want to change the world by initialising a new way of communication, namely communication across a long distance, limited to the participants of the communicative act (many people can hear fanfares or see smoke) – it is communication across the world, or at least within the village or the community – mind, this community is already a changed one if compared with “the original one”: it consists of more people than those being in the immediately (= without mediation) reachable present presence …. – but we may also find a different background, namely an economic one: again, one of first order: the need to maintain in touch to execute a specific business; the other of second order, which is about establishing a large network that can execute one task, composed of different sub-tasks that: if you want the institutionalisation of the six degrees of dependence, focused on  a special, though not entirely pre-defined “undertaking”.
  • Many of these in fact implying the need of going beyond the overall use of three phones. And this opens the way for a another reasoning, can we say it is a social-economic one? Or on of anticipated surplus-value? Or one based I a felt or assumed further process of socialisation? Surely different aspects play a role, and surely it is difficult to find the exact and reliable answer. And surely, in hindsight motives are coming to the fore that are in the meantime completely overgrown and changed by
    • mechanisms required by running the show – academic networks that change focus due to the requirement of financing the work
    • people who joined and take over with different interests
    • or we find a shift towards using nice wrapping paper with beautiful ribbons – perhaps the ribbons made of the ropes with which people could have hanged in other eras as their acts are just ordinary criminal offenses.

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