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The Unreliable NationHostile Nature and Technological Failure in the Cold War$
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Edward Jones-Imhotep

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036511

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036511.001.0001

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Reading Technologies

Reading Technologies

(p.67) 3 Reading Technologies
The Unreliable Nation
Edward Jones-Imhotep
The MIT Press

This chapter examines the efforts to make the high-latitude ionogram legible, tracing the effects of that new legibility into wider, resonant views of the relationship between the North and communication failures. It first focuses on the transformations in the way the high-latitude ionogram was read. The same geophysical phenomena that disrupted Northern radio communications made high-latitude ionograms unreadable using standard techniques. Led by one of its founding members, Jack Meek, the Radio Physics Laboratory developed a set of reading regimes that would make these records readable for the first time. The second part of the chapter investigates how the connections built up through these techniques resonated far beyond the laboratory. By linking Northern geophysics and communications disruptions, the Laboratory furnished visual arguments for how defining elements of Canada’s northern-ness threatened reliable communications, feeding back into broader cultural narratives put forward by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the geographer Louis-Edmond Hamelin.

Keywords:   legibility, reading regimes, ionogram, high-latitude, geophysics, Jack Meek, Radio Physics Laboratory, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Louis-Edmond Hamelin

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