When considering all plausible disasters that might cause a worldwide breakdown in modern communications, I always think of The Stand, the Stephen King opus in which a superflu pandemic wipes out more than 99% of the world’s population.
No internet existed 30 years ago, when King wrote his novel, so television was the glamour medium of the day. It was also the first medium to be disrupted when “Captain Trips” struck.
Broadcasters who tried to tell the truth of the pandemic were summarily executed for treason. Vigilantes used the last TV broadcasts to conduct public executions.
Radio broadcasters’ executions followed shortly thereafter, carried out by military hit squads. Newspapers, in the form of one-page broadside extras, were issued by small-town newsmen — and by the Los Angeles Times, before its presses were dynamited and its remaining workers executed by the Army.
Hmmm. Do we see a pattern there?
My point is that information can be a dangerous thing. It is something that beleaguered governments like to control when it’s in their interest to do so.
If a government arbitrarily decided to disrupt the internet for “security purposes,” who could stop them? What would take the web’s place, if the old, low-tech technology isn’t there when the new, high-tech technology breaks down?
Without print, the last unlicensed, low-tech form of modern mass communication, there would be no samizdats to subvert a massive official corruption. Come the revolution, I guess our Hewlett-Packard Laserjets might have to suffice for a printing press.