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THE 1971 PREDICTION OF THE "WEB" / TELESPHERE

PRESENT-DAY INTRODUCTION Page 1

For present-day terminology index, link to Page 2 from below.


The 1971 document Man in the Telesphere predicted - before any others - the "web" (alternatively then also suggesting "mosaic") and "links", "multi-mode media" convergence, etc, and various societal consequences. This site contains the full 1971 text, 108 print pages (though some scanning errors remain), and would hopefully - with some modest funding - someday contain hundreds of other documents in a wide variety of disciplines, also authored by or relating to Raymond Spencer Rodgers PhD.

Probably for some years the authenticity of this startling document - and Rodgers' 1951 teenage vision that computers would "shrink, and link, and help us think" - was doubted. Early in the web, various writers - like James Carroll, John Dvorak, Ted Nelson, the editors at Mecklermedia, Newsweek, Saturday Night, Wired, etc - were contacted and advised about the copy available for verification at the Canadian National Library, Ottawa, remaining from some sixty copies sent to various research institutes etc in 1971. None of those contacted then had the time or inclination to research [by inter-library loan or otherwise] and report the fact of the matter: the world-wide web, including what we now call hypermedia linkage, was clearly forecast - many years before other highly-touted (media-favourite) pioneers did so - and remarkably accurate consequences spelled out with respect to cultures, politics, economics, on-line communities, etc. Some other perceived consequences will likely take more decades and centuries to evolve.


[When asked decades later if he would retroactively amend ("correct") anything about Man in the Telesphere (a word he originated), if able to go back in time to do so, Rodgers says - yes, the title! He would have renamed it "Life in the Electrosphere" (another of his originations, like "digisphere") and devoted more space to a collateral topic - the moral and resource-limitations need to fabricate nourishment and artifacts from inert matter, rather than depend for ever on predation of other animal and vegetable life.]

In a 31 Dec 98 lead story, USA Today cites MIT's Nicholas Negroponte as saying that contemporary nation-states "are basically the wrong size." If Negroponte had read the text and charts in chapter 3 of the copy of Telesphere sent to MIT in early l972 he could have known about this [and - if referencing subsequent communication between Rodgers and the Science Council of Canada - about teleconferenced holograms] nearly three decades earlier.


Rodgers in the Fifties and Sixties had absolutely no awareness of Bush, Englebart, Kleinrock, Licklider, Nelson, Taylor, Tomlinson et al. Although these and other persons were situated in high-tech environments, and Rodgers not so positioned, he nevertheless was more precise and predictive than they were with respect to some of the now-realized concepts in this present text - and likely as to the epochal paradigm-shift vision alluded to in Telesphere [for now-realized concepts, see present-day index in the next page of this two-page introduction]. When people say otherwise, and suggest that these concepts had already been written about before 1971, the question is: in what learned article, or what book, and where? E.g., Marshall McLuhan had not the slightest perception that an internet was impending, and wrote about centralizing mass media in a resulting global village; vastly more perceptive Telesphere is about equally decentralizing alternative "minority" media and radiation (biological term) of cultures. [E.g., see a Rodgers- and Acadian-related site]. And no, Vannevar Bush's memex microfiches were not linked in an on-line network; etc. Telesphere in 1971 specifically predicted an "electronic web", describing what we now have early in the 21st Century - and probable consequences ahead.

Other than this present welcoming page (with a significant attachment to it below), and the further contemporary (present-time) page of notes and summary index immediately following, the remainder of this site is an archival document. Therein, other than high-lighting a few words ("web") and phrases to assist the reader, nothing has been intruded to the original 1971 book text - now made available on-line (as also predicted in the 1971 text!).

It took thirty years for Mendel's work to be acknowledged. When subsequent persons in the same field realized that Mendel had preceeded them - they honourably acknowledged the fact. [Tesla, by contrast, died forgotten in a NY rooming house; Turing was societally prosecuted, like Socrates, to suicide; and whatever happened to Aristarchus of Samos?]. In the present context, some of the people failing to acknowledge Telesphere knew about it - and drew from it - in or after 1971 (more on this in the second page of this present-day introduction).

On 14 Mar 94 Bill Tammeus' Kansas City Star column mentioned Telesphere in passing, but it is not known whether his column was picked up by any other NYTNS paper. In 1995 Natasha Netschay thoroughly researched Telesphere and wrote an article titled "Cybervisonary ignored" for the (Dec.95) Vancouver Internet News. In mid-1998 a "Pacific Profiles" interview of Rodgers was filmed by (Vancouver BC) Troika Film's Walter Daroshin and later broadcast on VTV, BC Knowledge Network, and other video channels. [Two candidates for further publicizing Telesphere could and ought to be ABC TV's Peter Jennings and, in Canada, CTV's Lloyd Robertson]. In early 1999, Virginia Tech computer science professor J.A.N. Lee included Telesphere in his internet history summary bibliography - and scholarly citation finally commenced. An interesting perspective is one provided by Ted Gemberling, Wichita State University. The 30th anniversary of Telesphere: 2001.

If being first to perceive and explore the shift from geo-biosphere to telesphere (electro-biosphere) is as significant as moving from geocentric to heliocentric perception, then now read today's Aristarchus. See also polymathic "Research Note" UBC Reports 3 Apr 97 p10. And for practicalities, see the last two text-blocks at the bottom of the Vancouver University welcome page.


  • PRESENT-DAY INTRODUCTION Page 2 / MODERN WORDS INDEX

  • ORIGINAL 1971 TABLE OF CONTENTS AND FULL TEXT


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