I Am Radio

There is a passage in Allen S. Weiss Phantasmic Radio which somehow makes me think of a typology of human communicative behaviour. It is for me very suggestive. In the passage from the preface to his book, Weiss signals the importance of “a momentous yet aesthetically unheralded event: the creation of the first feedback in electrical circuitry.” He continues:

On 31 January 1913, Edwin H. Armstrong had notarized his diagram of the first regenerative circuit, an invention which was to be the basis of radio transmission. his discovery was that the audion (vacuum tube) could be used not only as a detector of electrical waves but also, through regeneration or feedback, as a signal amplifier. Furthermore, as a generator of continuously oscillating electromagnetic waves, it could be used as a transmitter.

It is simple to read off of this: detection, amplification and transmission. And see therein three possible activities of/for the the cybernauts of the twenty first century. Detection and transmission seem obvious descriptions of the activities of the networked generation and its predecessors. Amplification less so. Yet is not part of everyday work and play of the important task to to amplify what has been detected and transmitted i.e. boost the signal? Well, perhaps. Weiss reminds us that “Radio was created — and with it, an unfortunate electronic side-effect was first heard, that of static.”

And so for day 571

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