Commemorative Plaque

The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Mayflower Steps, Plymouth, commissioned as part of Social Hacking.


On March 9th, 1858 HMS Agamemnon and the USS Niagara sailed from Plymouth harbour to lay the transatlantic telegraph cable, the world’s first transcontinental communications network linking Great Britain and the United States. This marker is presented to the city of Plymouth by the Institute for Applied Autonomy on September 1, 2007, to commemorate the 149th anniversary of the first global communications network crash — which occurred 3 weeks after the cable’s inauguration, the result of a misguided attempt at increasing transmission speed by electrician Edward Orange Wildman Whitehouse.”

The Institute for Applied Autonomy also proposes a historic marker commemorating the first “extraordinary rendition” flight to land in UK territory, and honouring the ongoing “special relationship” between the US and UK. Plymouth has been selected as the site for a historic marker because of its unique historical position symbolising linkages between our two countries. From the initial voyage of the Mayflower from Plymouth Harbour, to the imprisonment of American patriots in Plymouth Goal during the American War for Independence, to the loading of the transatlantic cable in Plymouth dockyards, Plymouth has been a key node in symbolic, historical, and physical linkages between the US and UK. As such, it is an ideal location to represent the current manifestation of the so-called “special relationship” between the Blair and Bush administrations. Through this project, we hope also to express solidarity between US and UK dissident and resistance movements.