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B9 Information Flows (project completed)

Asymmetries in Cultural Information Flows: Europe and South Asia in the Global Information Network since the Nineteenth Century

Coordination: Roland Wenzlhuemer

Abstract

In the course of the nineteenth century, a global telegraph network emerged as a new vehicle for transcultural contact and interaction. Constraints of time and space lost much of their importance in global communication, while access to the communication network became exclusive and prohibitively expensive. The new system employed specialized codes and signs and was geared to serve European scripts and languages. Access required special skills and the existence of a specially trained group of operators. In addition, telegraphy introduced artificial limits on the length and content of communicated messages. All this led to the emergence of asymmetries in long-distance communication and global information flows that followed an entirely new rationale. It is the main purpose of this JRG to trace these asymmetries and to find out how they impacted on cultural flows and exchanges.

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