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including just about anyone who uses the internet as we do to communicate with others around the globe.  

I would like to note that the telegraph was established as the first international wired communication system, with common standards during the 19th century. If Internet needs USA as global dominator, then was Britain the global dominator that the telegraph needed? Or did it not need a global dominator?

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 01:20:36 PM EST
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There's a way to answer that question: Follow where telegraph cables were laid. Controlling for distance and population or GDP, if I'm right, the cables should be greater within the respective commonwealths of empires and not between them, which would imply that if a given imperial commonwealth had been historically bigger, the magnitude of transnational relationships observable in the world would have been greater too.
by santiago on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 12:39:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I think you would find is a telegraph net, that on the same landmass you would find more cables within areas controlled by the same state, then between such areas. Cables on the bottom of the oceans were rather few an expensive, and the only empire to control an international net reaching all parts of the world, was the British empire.

However, I bet the same - higher number of cables within political entity then between - can be said about the internet. For example, our own little branch of Echelon FRA collects data at the rather few nodes were traffic enters and exits Sweden.

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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 03:52:26 PM EST
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And once you're running cables anyway, you might as well run more capacity than you expect to need: The marginal cost of doubling capacity if you're running cables anyway is much lower than retrofitting extra capacity on afterwards. So as long as somebody finds it worthwhile to run internet cables across borders or geographic boundaries, there's likely to be connection. And this is likely to be the case, considering that even during the coldest bits of the so-called "Cold War," Western Europe and the Soviet Union were running gas pipelines across what was probably the least permeable border of the time.

- Jake

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by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 04:07:38 PM EST
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