Who invented the Like Button?

I’ve been pointing out that radio, especially shortwave, made it harder to constrain expression. SW always sneaks around borders and walls and jammers.

But radio also made it harder to run a pay-for-value business. Subscriptions and customer service require either printed magazines sent to specific addresses, or a hard-wired communication system. Telegraph and telephone and web are naturally subscriber-based, and are gradually returning to natural after a decade of UNnatural advertising-based business.

Radio has only two ways of making money: advertising and government licenses. Neither is sensitive to listener feedback.

Scramblers and descramblers could have created a one-way subscriber service, but I’m pretty sure they were never tried in a commercial way.

American Radio Library has added some issues of Crosley’s promotional magazine. The April 1924 issue includes a speech by Herbert Hoover, who was Sec of Commerce at the time, setting out regulations to allocate spectrum ‘real estate’. He had a surprising suggestion:

The Godfather of radio, Secretary Herbert C. Hoover, in a recent talk on radio regulations, pointed out the immediate need for a new radio invention which would permit the broadcast speaker to sense the feelings of his invisible audience and get their hisses or applause. “If there was some sort of a negative push button on your sets,” he said, “you could discourage some broadcasters.”

This was NOT technically possible in the ’20s. Hoover knew it was impossible and explained the problem clearly. Each radio would need to be a powerful transceiver with its own private frequency, and there weren’t nearly enough freqs available.

Cellphones are two-way devices now, using a massive infrastructure of local towers and time-sharing.

Two-way communication would have been possible via telephone or telegraph lines in that era. In fact a complete two-way subscription radio system via telephone was tried in a few places.

The AI silliness in previous item told us authoritatively that JFK invented cheddar cheese, and George Washington invented the police speed radar. If it had claimed that Herbert Hoover invented the Like Button I would have laughed….. until now.

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