|Ham Radio and the WWW|
Asuncion, August the 19th 1997
Ham Radio And The WWW
The advent of the Internet, which has globalized so fast during the past couple of years, has created a wave of very different reactions among the ham community. Basically the two mayor groups could be gathered under the following descriptions: Those who favor it and see it as a great breakthrough, and those who criticise it.
The two reactions are very normal and accptable; the one thing that is not acceptable, is the fear and panic that a big portion of the ham community is showing regarding the possible negative effect of the Internet over ham radio. Amateur Radio has always been a minority as compared to different breakthroughs that have happened at the end of the past centutry all the way to the present day. The telephone, television, fax machines, just to mention a few past and present "threats" to the ham community, have established their place in today's world. Ham radio has proven to be very close to these technological discoveries and was many times responsible for the improvement of such means of "mass communication".
Think of amateur television, phone patch, satellite packet radio (perhaps the closest relative to the Internet that I can think of)...all these wonderful discoveries have been "embellished" by the radio amateur community which has shown a deeper horizon for each one of them. We, as amateurs, are also characterized by the fact that, one way or another, we "specialize" in one area of the hobby. We have those who love chatting on the local repeater, those who work on improving packet transmissions, those who dedicate themselves to satellite transmissions, dx-ing, contesting, moon-bounce ... you name it. Just as in any mayor field of technology, amateur radio needs to specialize in different areas of the hobby. On the other hand, a facet of the hobby which might have not attracted a certain ham operator a year ago, could vey easily become his main area of interest today...that has happened to me and I know that the same has happend to a vast mayority of us all. If the internet were to be called "Amateur Internet" or "Radio Internet", I'm sure that less amateurs would panic.
If we look closely, we'll see that in their roots, amateur radio and the Internet are very much bonded together. Internet signals travel through the air and space through antennas and satellites in the form of packets. Aren't we amateurs always trying to communicate better? If the Internet is a great means of communications, I'm sure that we amateurs, will contribute to making it an even better one. Just take a look at the amazing "amateur radio web-pages" that are scattered all over the www, or grouped together in "amateur radio cyber clusters"... ham pages linking to one-another getting us closer than ever...third world countries' operators like me being able to share online information of the most varied nature with colleagues on the other side of the world at the bottom of the solar cycle.
I can also affirm that some of the most visited web pages on the Internet are owned by amateur operators (OH2BUA, G4NJH, etc.). People that would have probably never been exposed to our hobby, "page" us on the www asking: "what does ZP5XF stand for?"... just a few keystrokes after, the person paging us is asking "what do I have to do in order to become a ham operator?"... In the past decades, many countries have seen an amazing growth of their ham population (The US, Japan, European Countries), the sudden decrease is almost natural. On the other hand, developing countries like Paraguay are seeing an amazing growth in the past few years. The internet has undoubtly contributed to this growth. I look at my "ham story" and I see all of the above to be very true. In the past couple of years I've "specialized" in contesting, and time can be quite endless when you are waiting for the next mayor contest to arrive. The internet has proven to be a great complement for me... in between contests I share information with other colleagues on how to improve my station, compare logs, announce a ZP operation, improve my own web page (http://www.qsl.net/zp5xf) offering always more and updated information to my country fellow men and to the world ham and non-ham community and I know that thousands of hams all over the world are doing the same.
I realize that before the Internet, I knew very little about what the Clipperton Club was planning for July, or that many Georgia stations are Pirate stations or that it is possible to stack antennas on different towers, and that some 500 amateurs are involved in Amateur Radio Astronomy. The internet is a new born baby, live and kicking but full of promise.
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|©Renato Bellucci ZP5XF/CX|
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