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Article Title

The Cable Fable

Authors

Kas Cable

Abstract

When Henry Ford announced in 1910 a "business strategy of volume production of a static-model, reliable car for the masses," he was not stepping into a commercial void. Through magazine articles, races, auto shows, demand for the self-powered covered wagon had already grown to the point of mass appreciation. It was, after all, not difficult to persuade a restless, turn-of-the century public that the motor car would keep the city streets cleaner than the horse; that it was quieter and more manageable, and less likely to spread tetanus; that it provided increased mobility and status and initiated the opening up of suburban lands. Currently another myth of technological betterment is in the making. The transportation revolution, this myth contends, will soon be superceded by a communications revolution, which once again will transform society, economy and culture. Telecommunications systems will thrill our egos, guard our homes, and cook our meals. This myth, unlike its motorized counterpart, is not as dependent on a single product or technology; nonetheless, its focus clearly falls on cable television. It is this new video mode that has instigated a battle for control, which, in the words of Ralph Lee Smith, is "deadlier than a western." At the same time., the potential and promise of cable television are being extolled by a wide range of normally divergent voices. It is hardly exaggeration to speak of an emerging cable "fable."

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