IRC is the Ham Radio of the Internet

Jumping into the Church IT IRC channel today, it occurred to me that IRC is the Ham Radio of the Internet. Here is why:

  1. You have to be old to remember it’s good-old-days.
  2. It doesn’t come with any training at all.
  3. Has it’s own etiquette and cultural norms, which you only find out by doing the wrong thing publicly.
  4. Signing off and on isn’t easy… the commands aren’t self-evident.
  5. Finding your friends is hard.
  6. It is used in emergencies when more traditional communications are down.
  7. You fire a message and can’t forget… you have to wait for a response before moving on to other things (unlike Skype or Google Chat which will obnoxiously make noises at you).

There has been a lot of noise recently about Twitter as communications platform for the future. I don’t mind the projectionists prognosticating about Twitter killing other mediums, but one thing that bothers me is that unlike Ham Radio and IRC, Twitter isn’t built on standard protocols or an open network.

Don’t get me wrong, my 2,050 Tweets shows I am a real supporter of the thing, but I don’t think I’m going to depend on Twitter during a government overthrow, during a hurricane on a satellite phone, or in the midst of a battle. Twitter just isn’t dependable or open enough yet, and if it were I would imagine our military would have jumped on it before we got to it.

Posted in Applications Development, Best Practice, Research & Development, Telecommunications

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