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Intercommunications Technologies: The Development of Postal Services in Sweden

Thomas Falk and Ronald Abler
Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography
Vol. 67, No. 1 (1985), pp. 21-28
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
DOI: 10.2307/490795
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/490795
Page Count: 8
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Intercommunications Technologies: The Development of Postal Services in Sweden
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Abstract

Sweden's network of post offices developed in four distinct stages: rapid expansion in the 17the century; a long postestablishment equilibrium lasting until the 1860s; a secondary expansion and intensification until 1950; and contraction and thinning thereafter. The use of letter services was low until the 1920s, when it began to grow rapidly. Despite the availability of competitive media in recent decades, letter service is still growing. Two conclusions of general interest emerge from this case study. First, communications networks do not diffuse. They are directed and extended in a rational manner, and in fact intercommunications networks cannot diffuse because of a utility-penetration paradox. Secondly, new media are more evolutionary than revolutionary in both the short and the long run, because intercommunications technologies are synergistic rather than competitive and new media do not immediately supplant old media.

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