I was listening in on the Hit and Bounce traffic net this morning. It met on 7114 on Sunday morning and I happened to be reading something that made reference to this particular traffic group. Apparently it has been active since 1938 with the same name and organization. That is a very long time to be handling traffic.
After I finished listening to them handle the meager level of traffic, I started wondering how this all got started, why it keeps on going in this day and age of email and costless long distance telephone service and all the other communications accoutrement of modern living. Who feeds this series of networks and how does one generate traffic? This is sort of a rhetorical question for I have been lame and accusatory about traffic nets sending themselves traffic just to up the QTC numbers and make it appear to validate their existence. I wont be bashful about this thought process since I am totally ignorant of anything to do with traffic handling and make my observations from that POV. Traffic handling always seemed like work to me and so I avoided it completely.
Lately however, with practicing code and not making much progress along the way I have given some serious consideration to joining up with a local area net to see if I could polish my code, contribute to something useful and give a little back as it were. The “contributing to something useful” part is what I am trying to investigate. To that end is the reason for listening to some net activity.
After net time and in complete ignorance of actual net practice I had some navel lint picking moments to consider my own sources and sinks for traffic. I can dump local deliveries to recipients via local telephone calls, but from where does one get traffic origination? I have wondered in the past why traffic nets don’t have a Web Portal at say ARRL splash page for people to input a canned message into NTS for say health and welfare during times of emergency like Katrina and Rita hurricanes. Another web input could be at Red Cross splash pages. You get my drift here i am sure; low traffic is a symptom of not knowing the system exists or how to use it.
Another chunk of lint picking occurred to me that a natural customer for these bits of sunshine called traffic would be Nursing Homes. I have some experience with Nursing Homes. My father placed himself into one and for 7 years we visited faithfully several times a week. My father was, sadly, the exception to the rule however. He had visitors. A significant portion of the Nursing Home population rarely saw a visitor. Maybe once a year if they were lucky. It is truly a warehouse of walking dead people and a sad group of places indeed. The staff works hard to cheer up the facilities but there is no substitute for the outside world. Some cannot afford telephone service, do not get visitors and are, for intents and purposes, isolated from the world. I wonder if some symbiotic relationship would be served by offering a free telegram service to these places? It would serve to reconnect the aged and offer them an outlet and simultaneously feed the traffic net beast. Certainly this age group can relate to telegrams and the cheer they can bring.
All of this presupposes that there should be life pumped into traffic nets at all. I happen to think it could very well serve as a great asset should natural or man made disaster happen. With the advent of modern electronic communication there will always be a need for an ad hoc group of communicators in affected regions who are totally familiar with the surroundings and able to communicate in an organized way. Call it last mile, call it NTS, call it whatever you like but it works because its volunteer, it is local with all the attendant knowledge that goes with being local. That said I worry sometimes about our connected lifestyle. I wonder how many people give any consideration to having an electricity outage for say 10 days or more? I wonder how many people comprehend what happens when cells and internets quit working? Ranges and washers don’t work? Im not consumed by this idea but I give it some thought and remind my self to renew my matches supply, keep firewood handy, keep hunting for that “Bargain” gen set just around the next carport sale….one thing everyone needs to keep in mind is how fragile all of this infrastructure really is.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG