The very word “infrastructure” sounds big and imposing, all concrete and rebar and buttresses here and there.
Not so, says Doc Searls: it’s plastic, and especially so when it comes to radio:
[T]he infrastructure of broadcasting, at least here in the U.S. … is being gradually absorbed into the mobile data system, which is still captive to the mobile phone system, but won’t be forever. For New York’s FM stations, the old-fashioned way to get range is to put antennas in the highest possible places, and radiate signals sucking thousands of watts off the grid. The new-fashioned way is to put a stream on the Net. Right now I can’t get any of these stations in Boston on an FM radio. In fact, it’s a struggle even to get them anywhere beyond the visible horizons of the pictures I took on the Empire State Building. But they come in just fine on my phone and my computer.
You have to wonder if Ferris O’Brien is getting more listeners off TheSpyFM.com than he can possibly get off that 900-watt stick out there in Boondoxia.
To borrow the name of a band Ferris plays now and then, We Were Promised Jetpacks. That’s not happening yet, exactly, but prying terrestrial radio off actual terra firma seems to me to be a step in the right direction.