The map on this slide shows the 535 Chappe telegraph stations that were present in France in 1840 (source, at a high resolution, with many more maps besides).

An optical telegraph system. During the wars, the Chappe telegraph expanded to Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy.

I guess I’m interested in networks because I’m interested in cybernetics, which is all about the concept of feedback. Feedback as a dominant metaphor, a way of looking at the world, is a new thing—just from the 1950s I guess, in this manifestation, although it arises a lot earlier in other guises. It’s interactivity—being able to operate at a distance and have immediate response. It’s how the brain works, and it inspired computers. It’s a very new thing, yet we live in a world which is described in terms of it—action and reaction, message and response, cause and effect.

Okay, so I like networks and cybernetics, and that leads me onto things that are different from these things. For example, slowness is good, and I want to look at some other examples of this.

Matt Webb, S&W, posted 2006-04-06 (talk on 2006-02-23)