Paul Theroux on Singapore: The Wired City (20th Nov 1973)


Napfisk, 2nd place winner in my BestBlogForward meme, recently wrote about The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (see High Browse Online). Check out an old quote he found from the then Singapore Telephone Board Chairman of 1973 as written in Paul’s book:

“Developments in telecommunications have already done much to change the pattern of our lives. Concepts such as the ‘wired city’ in which a single cable to each home or office would handle all communication needs could soon be put in practice. […] Imagine, at your home communication centre, both mail and newspapers might arrive electronically delivered by facsimile ‘print-out’.”

How much of this is now true?
These “home communication centres” might now be know as our Internet-enabled computers. We are converging on one communication line out that is our Coaxial Cable which provides TV programming and Internet access. Since I get telephone service via VoIP (i.e. Skype and Vonage), I’ve not been using the telephone line ever since.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…
Still, there has been an even more dramatic shift… that is, to be completely wireless. Like most other developed cities, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has already announced the country’s “Wireless@SG initiative“, which is a plan to cover the island nation in wireless broadband by September 2007. If you don’t already know, watching television programs over the Internet isn’t a problem (via 3G networks, IPTV vs. TV-over-IP, placeshifting devices).

The only wire left sticking out might just be your power cable, but even that can be solved.

A bit of trivia: Can someone find out who the Chairman for the Singapore Telephone Board was back in 1973?

3 thoughts on “Paul Theroux on Singapore: The Wired City (20th Nov 1973)

  1. Easily 😉 It’s actually mentioned a bit further in the book. It’s Mr Frank Loh, who “spoke on ‘Telephone Communication’ at the convention of the Singapore-Malaysia Institutes of Engineering”. I hope you’ll forgive me for thinking that was too much information for my acual post…

    Actually, Theroux isn’t that kind for Singapore and doesn’t seem to think much of it. He actually lived there for three years, but “like everone I knew” there, he had “just been waiting for his chance to get out”. He also calls it “politically as primitve as Burundi”.

    Mind you, Theroux, though a great travel writer, is a nag in ALL of his books, so…

    Hope this helps. Take care!

  2. Napfisk: Haha, thanks. Apparently that’s one reason why some Singaporeans are fans of his. Some wish to get out of the system too. I think the same goes everywhere, even though the problems are different, the emotion might be similarly motivated 🙂

  3. do you have any more information on what he spoke about at the convention of the Singapore-Malaysia Institutes of Engineering?

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