Guest author, Dr. Dan Cruser, a practicing pathologist in New York and colleague of mine from residency provides a counterpoint to the use of telepathology networks in cases of extreme disruption to societies (i.e. war) and the control of Internet and flow of information. It is a bit Orwellian but I appreciate the context of what can happen to free and open societies, loss of information flow and the potential need to use the microscope as a backup when disruption disrupts technology.
Don’t throw out your microscope just yet. Reading about the turmoil going on in the Middle East and elsewhere, I noticed that a common tactic for a government threatened by an uprising is to exert some type of control over the Internet. It seems that in some places those who hold power are able to influence telecommunications companies or simply shutdown the Internet in order to disrupt the communication abilities of their foes.
Gee, wouldn’t that put a damper on the use of your new telepathology system? Is there maybe a reason to pause before discarding our archaic technology for the sexy bits and bytes of high speed whole slide scanners and digital image analyzers? A recent article describes how some have used “mesh” networks in order to essentially proliferate the ability to share information in a “non-traditional” way. For example, Commotion offers free open source software for setting up your own meshwork. On their website they brag that the US Department of State and other organizations have given funding to them. Presumably to help advance “democracy” in others countries. I’m certain that the good ol’ US of A would never try to impede on the use of Internet, but perhaps pathologists with telemedicine networks in other countries should consider designing some off-grid redundancy. Or hold onto their microscopes.