David de Ugarte writes that “Al-Qaeda is the first distributed armed organisation that is open and based on open-access technology, ideology and gear.” The rest is debatable, but the word “first” is wrong. What about all those networks of early-warning hill-top beacons in Scandinavia 1000 years ago, used to rouse people with home-made weapons and shared ideology to fight intruders? (The genesis of the phrase “where’s the beacon” is to complex to explain here.)

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