Ming the Mechanic:
Immaculate Telegraphy

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Immaculate Telegraphy2009-06-15 00:58
16 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Immaculate Telegraphy is a blog charting out an attempt to go out into nature and create ... the internet. Or, more precisely:
Could humans at any point in history, given the right information, construct an electronic communication network? To test this hypothesis, Substitute Materials will attempt to build a functional electric battery and telegraph switch from materials found in the wilderness, using no modern tools except information from the internet. The telegraph will be a first step towards an ahistorical internet.
I find this kind of thing tremendously interesting. What is real knowledge? Knowledge that you can take it with you and that actually will be worth something? Lots of people are experts in stuff that would be completely useless if it weren't for a whole bunch of other things that would need to be in place. I'm a computer programmer - that'd do me no damn good if nobody would be able to manufacture computers.

Our society is ridiculously inter-dependent. It was hundreds a years ago since there last were people around who were experts in all major fields at the same time. Today we're a society of specialists who most of them would be helpless and useless if it weren't for a whole bunch of other specialists. It is a fragile system. Civilization could very well collapse if it got a big enough bump.

A simple job like that - go out in nature and create a telegraph - extremely primitive technology by today's standards - is an almost insurmountable task. OK, it is doable, of course, but very hard.

It ought to be a basic boy/girl scout thing that everybody would learn to do as kids. How do you jumpstart the basic elements of our civilization in case it gets lost, or in case you get lost?


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16 comments

15 Jun 2009 @ 01:25 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Writing
Hmmmm interesting I have spent a long time envisioning the senario
I concluded there is not enough general knowledge to constitute a proper global
framework. The thing is the breakdown of the the complexity of modern life to key constituents
priorities as it were and people that possess the knowledge of them to function and not just pompus bullies to boss the sheep. What does a civilization need to function at a basic level.
According to a book im reading "the dawn of civilization" 1961 writing was the key element that got civilization as we know it going. the ability to "record" and pass on knowledge was thus crutial to the functioning of a society. The problem we faces today is a glut of records with few accurate global truths or perhaps laws or default frameworks.
Ive just been examining Canadas ten commandments the Charter of rights and freedoms
Its an excellant piece of work by former PM Trudeau in terms of a basic blueprint for a just society.'Complex and simple at the same time. A Constitution in a sense is a contract between people to adhere and agree to live a certain way of life. It frustrated me to hear the USAs former president conclude that a constitution was just a piece of paper but it is the essence of all that is today, It is the framework of civilization . It is what has allowed what is today to be built but anyway could we rebuild civilization? well what are the default settings the fall back positions? It would work better and easier to rebuild if there were certain defaults in place it would sure save a lot of work.

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 01:34 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : tool making
fire was discovered by homos 500000 years ago spears started being used a little later. Homo sapiens sapiens us weren't on the scene for another 400000 years.
in My book the dawn of civ says as well that many animals "use" tools but few Make them and then only one humans actually "design" and make tools
the bow and arrow was useful and appeared on the scene about 35000 years ago
and a gene modification that occurred about 200000 years allowed humans to refine there communication. Cave painting started around 25000 years ago and gradually led to art and writing mostly for accounting purposes.

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 03:11 by ming : Knowledge
So, the challenge is now if we can "backport" some of the knowledge we have today, so that we'd have better ways of getting up to speed, if we ever were in that situation again, rather then having to go through 10s of thousands of years of trial and error.

Metal was probably discovered as a fluke, seeing some melted metal after lightning struck some rocks. Nowadays we should know what rocks to seek out and what to do with them. And "we" do, but personally I have very little clue. Reddish rocks would probably be a good sign of the presence of iron. Greenish oxidation of rocks might point to copper. How to I refine it? How do I make a forge? Hm, I don't know, some kind of clay structure that gets fired from the bottom?  



15 Jun 2009 @ 07:36 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Metal
Backport? interesting term
yes metal and the working and firing of it is another only human entity...
Ive done some gold smithing and yes it is probably and accidental discovery but one of observation too.... the problem is finding and identifying the source material but getting the temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees is the real kicker
the ancients 3500 bc went thru elaborate methods to build coking ovens where some of the O2 was removed to achieve the carbon atmosphere necessary as well its a reducing atmosphere you need to achieve the chemical properties and reactions but the temp is important and that the temp that low is just for silver gold and bronze copper/tin .... iron needs even more heat....
the necessity thus of a simple oxy propane torch would be nice then or electo arc welding tools that are simple to construct..

one of the key ingredients to of a global society is the invention of time of course which happened around 3000bc to 500 ad and the calendar and recorded date which was first aug 14 3114 bc by the mayans and standard time which came in around 1870 by a canadian sir sandford flemming.....

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 08:07 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Global Default
I think what were may be onto here is the creation of a global constant or a global default position that everyone can agree on or most everyone most of the time.... the thing or problem is what is a global default that most can understand . Is it a global basic constitution or charter or in a tech society is it a global set of specs or values that resonate with the technology of the day or both. And how is it made simple and logical and lawful enough to be doable and understandable by the majority.

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 08:25 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Internet Reboot
The idea of a global default position is perhaps mission critical to the continuation of the now. If the internet were to be suddenly turned off....
then..... what.... it would or probably exist still in some places but it would never be the same which might be good might not.... but then if that were a concern if there were a global default setting in place you could simply start again from the default position with out to much fuss and bother.... yet the internet is complex as are we
but then to built the necessary hardware.... hmmm i wonder how work on the global cpu is going anyway.....

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 08:58 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Global Breakdown
sometimes the best way to avoid a breakdown is yes to prepare for it
but also to do simulations and controlled breakdowns and thus actually eventually
break it down on purpose. This thus can prove the validity of a system and its worthiness and tested and time tested quality and ?
It also reveals the flaws and weaknesses in the theory of the system as well as the inadequcies and shortcomings but can also lead to a better and simpler process and inovation. so.... are we ready? and how much time can we afford to fix the global hair ball before..... well....???? hmmmmm
the thing about experiments is that there are theories and actual data and results test results and outcomes.... millions might be lost lives or dollars?
or hours..... or hopes....

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 11:48 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Breakdown
ah yes reminds me of the experience I had the other day
I went into the book store and asked if they had any encylopedias on parenting
the attendant goes "could you be more specific"?
I sternly simply repeated myself and she said "no"
I guess I should have asked for a "blue" encylopedia on parenting
maybe they would have had it then like the old one I have at home.

yikes and geez...

swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 14:58 by ming : Backport
To "backport" is a computer programmer term. Let's say the team developing Firefox 2 has moved on to Firefox 3, which has a different architecture, but then they run into a really critical bug, which they've fixed in FF3, and which is so important that it ought to be fixed in FF2 as well, even though few people are using it. To take a chunk of code from a newer version and go and update the older version with it is called backporting. It is often used about parts of a Linux distribution. An older distribution naturally consists of older versions of all the programs. But when, in a later version, one discovers a critical bug, the fix might still be applied to the older version.

So when, for example, we have discovered how hygiene can prevent or slow the spread of disease, we'd know quite well how to go back to the middle ages and minimize the devastation of the black plague, and greatly increase the survival rate in medical treatments. We might not have that opportunity, but clearly it should be part of our survival kit somehow. It can be "backported" because it doesn't depend on any technology that wouldn't be available.

Since we understand aerodynamics now, we could backport flight. You could make a glider with the technology available several thousand years ago. Or you could probably make a glider if you get stuck on a mountain in a jungle somewhere.  



15 Jun 2009 @ 15:23 by ming : Boot loader
If I stick with the computer metaphors for a moment... The first computer I had the pleasure of using was an HP3000 mini computer in my school, around 1976. To start it up you had to type in a few 16 digit "words" on the lighted buttons on the front panel. That would be an instruction to then load in a strip of paper with holes in it, which was the boot loader, a small program which essentially would know how to start up the computer so that it could be accessed from the teletype and so it could access data on the harddisk (20MB and the size of a small refrigerator).

If we transfer that idea to different fields, there could be a basic boot loader for restarting essential elements of our civilization. Such as a telegraph like the guy is working on there. Or a first aid kit. Or a way of making fire. Once you have fire and you have metal tools, other things become much easier. So, there's kind of a basic kit that ought to exist, to get beyond the initial hurdles. If the kid could go as far as being able to get back to having international electronic communication, that would be all the more comforting.  



15 Jun 2009 @ 15:38 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Natural Internet
well if you could build a transmitter device of some sort like the whales use water to transmit over the ocean or elephants the pounding the ground to transmit over the miles or like the natives used smoke signals or the europeans used pidgeons.... the thing is the language to and not just the words but reading between the lines to the substance of the message.... decoding
I think it already exists to a degree its a matter of be able to pick up on it.
Like the chimps on one island that make a discovery and a short while later chimps on another distant island make the same though not visually communicated idea.... there would seem to exist a kind of natural internet thus of sorts
that we have not quite tapped into or deciphered. The actual internet is just the physical manifestation of this sort of psychic or natural internet. Its quite a challenge though to get past the firewalls and cross fire....


swanny  



15 Jun 2009 @ 15:55 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Link
wow look at this site
its back....
alright

link = [link]

h t t p : / / wholeearth.com/issue/2098/article/86/earth%27s.natural.internet  



15 Jun 2009 @ 18:01 by scotty : backporting !
ahah so that's what it's called !!

now I have a 'name' for what I did a couple of years ago LOL .... [link]  



16 Jun 2009 @ 01:16 by swanny @70.65.104.43 : Backporting BIOS
Well heres some thoughts on what to backport in computer terms
BIOS for one although it is generally way in the background
but can make a difference most people just upgrade I suppose
I suppose backporting bios well and backporting bootloaders
although most people just up grade those to
I suppose we could try backport our own memories
I tried that a bit hard to access the code ha ha
anyway

swanny  



17 Jun 2009 @ 18:47 by jmarc : Smoke signals
Maybe some type of spectroscopy used with smoke signals. The old Native American smoke signal was accomplished with a wet blanket dampening a fire, sending out signals in a sort of morse code manner. Same idea but maybe use different chemicals in fuel to release different colours in the spectrum.
Decoding it in a back to nature way might be a bit more difficult unless there is a natural specroscope that I am not aware of.
You could come up with a pretty complex language based on the colour spectrum.
Just a thought.  



5 Oct 2009 @ 20:12 by Ariane @81.182.15.138 : Skills training resorts
Yes, very good point, we became too specialized and interdependent.
Yes, practical basic knowledge, knowhow is key to discover and learn.
Yes, the world might change any time, computers are just a pile of trash without electricity...

Recognizing the basic need to re-study these basic technologies, we had a project in mind for some years:
to create small villages, sort of resorts, where scout-minded people can come and learn from old masters - city dwellers need to leave their car behind, milk the cow in the morning and help to build the village - and the whole idea is that they can learn these old/new skills. Agricultiral basics, building a small house, blacksmith stuff, carving wood, making wool...

I would really like if those who still have this knowhow could pass it on to young or old, whoever cares to learn it.

There are small, dead-end (one road in, no road out), empty, pictoresque villages in Hungary, which could be just bought altogether and built into such skill resorts! Anyone interested?  



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Other stories in
2012-05-03 00:04: An evolving path
2012-01-02 13:52: 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
2011-11-17 02:20: Your inner piece
2011-02-01 00:05: Slow Mo Flow
2011-01-22 18:40: Recognition
2010-08-23 00:36: Where's Ming?
2010-07-20 14:24: Getting other people to do stuff
2010-06-22 00:27: Inventory
2010-06-19 23:10: Conversations
2009-10-28 12:31: Then a miracle occurs



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