Dr. Kincaid writes:
“Today I shall address one of the newest old communication protocols present throughout the League and well beyond its borders: Simple Precise Electronic Writing, more commonly known today as SPEW. Although it is most infamous as a local- to planetary-scale protocol children use to coordinate their sock color and hair texture choices, it predates such banal usage by many centuries.
“The S-W protocol actually predates the League itself! It was developed parallel to the original LINC beacon technology and was originally tasked as a way to allow individual LINC beacons to communicate among themselves. Original interstellar routing procedures were chancy, fraught with risk and generally out of date once they had reached the amalgamated LINC radii of all the beacons. Obviously this would not support a feasible solution for totally free interstellar trade, so something better had to be developed.
“The solution was as simple as the LINC beacon itself. More so, even, because despite all rumors and facts to the contrary, I personally do not believe there is anything simple about LINC technology! Editorializing aside, Dr. Brodie Kharkev developed the LINC-to-LINC Management Messaging Protocol or LLMMP. Then, working alongside the better-known LINC scientists he assembled a minimal instruction/message set and pared down the data packets to fit within the 484-character packet-size limit.
“Since that time, SPEW is an integral part of every LINC beacon deployed. The protocol itself IS very simple, and deliberately so.
“The first version of the SPEW protocol, appearing around five or six hundred years ago, was designed to fit within the LINC-to-LINC packet size parameters but to carry data not related to astrogational routing or gravitic shifts. It was implemented at considerable cost by a group of corporations in order to track commodity prices and to predict demand trends. The fact that it was LLMMP-based made it much cheaper, per message, than standard communications once the initial investment amortized.
“Some three hundred years ago the original SPEW servers were taken over by commercial data and communication providers. That allowed them to provide the service on a planetary or systemic scale without involving the LINC network at all. This lowered the per-message cost to a point where it became viable as a service benefit and thus the modern SPEW was born.
“Oh yes. Since we’re on the subject, I shall put to end once and for all the persistent rumors that League Intelligence secretly owns and operates the SPEW network to its own ends! There is no secrecy whatsoever about who does and does not own any individual SPEW node. The League government does own quite a few, but most of them are in private hands. Second, Intelligence makes no secret whatsoever of the fact that its agents do SPEW and will continue to do so as long as it is available!
“So. If you feel the need to communicate to your friends that you’re wearing your fuchsia shoes with your wobble-cap and mood shirt, do so with the knowledge that you are using a grand old technology that made those ridiculous possessions both possible and affordable in the first place!”
F. R. Kincaid, PhD, ArG
If you’re interested in the universe about which Dr. Kincaid speaks, you can read all about it in A Pattern of Details and the Stone Blade series:
Ciao for now;