Satellites as Worldwide Change Agents
Joseph N. Pelton
The George Washington University and Arthur C. Clarke Institute
The medium is the message means … that a totally new environment has been created.
We have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.
—Marshall McLuhan (1966, pp. ix, 19)
Communications satellites have redefined our world. Satellites and other modern telecommunications networks, together with TV, have now altered the patterns and even many of the goals of modern society. Satellites, for better or worse, have made our world global, interconnected, and interdependent. Worldwide access to rapid telecommunications networks via satellites and cables now creates widespread Internet links, enables instantaneous news coverage, facilitates global culture and conflict, and stimulates the formation of true planetary markets. Satellites change our world and affect our lives. This book is an exploration of how satellites are a global agent of change in an incredible range of ways. These include the spanning and spread of new technology, news, culture, sports, entertainment, economic market, global politics, and much more.
The editors' prior introduction is intended to be a roadmap guide to our efforts to explain the many sides of the satellite world—past, present, and future. This chapter seeks to introduce in a general way the wide dimensions of that world and how it impacts our planetary society in a myriad of ways. Some of these are now so familiar that they are almost hidden from public view. For instance, most people know that direct broadcast TV comes from satellites, but are