I recently gained an interest in getting my Amateur Radio License. I want to experiment with various data protocols, and there some more traditional Amateur Radio goals I'd like to hit–such as contacting the International Space Station both with voice and data.

Originally, I just wanted to try setting up a some data links and play around a bit. I hadn't really planned doing much more than that. I certainly had not planned on getting involved in the Amateur Radio community. But in my studies for the exam, I have become more and more interested and excited. I have rediscovered something.

When I was first getting into computers, everything was new and exciting. Everything piqued my interest and I just wanted to play with everything. And when I finally got access to the Internet, I found a community of people equally excited and interested. I had found a seemingly endless well of esoteric knowledge from which to draw.

The Internet, for better or worse, has changed. The majority of the people access the Web and web-based services through a mobile device. Most are not tinkerers. Most are simply content consumers and social media participants.

While studying for the exam, I came across this question. The answer, if not obvious, is D.

T1A12:	 Which of the following is a permissible use of the Amateur Radio Service?

	A. Broadcasting music and videos to friends.
	B. Providing a way for amateur radio operators to earn additional income by using their stations to pass messages.
	C. Providing low-cost communications for start-up businesses.
	D. Allowing a person to conduct radio experiments and to communicate with other licensed hams around the world.

The wrong answers and the right answer speak volumes. Amateur Radio is not for grandstanding or self-promotion. It's not a medium for freelance work. It's not a means to end for a business. It is for experimentation and communication between experimenters.

From the books I've read, the conversations I've listened in on, and the websites I've browsed–this is true. I've rediscovered a world-wide community of tinkerers and experimenters. Amateur means someone who does something for the love of it and Amateur Radio by law is restricted to Amateurs.

I appreciate the openness of the internet. I like shopping online. I like being able to bank and pay my bills from a computer or phone. I find it fantastic that my wife can write copy and get paid all from a chromebook. I like the convenience of it all–but there is something to be said for a restricting a communication net to people who just want to screw around with the technology.

Amateur Radio reminds me of IRC back when I was really sharpening my technical skills, with the old hands all in their usual haunts. Everyone speaks the same jargon. There's a minimum level of civility that is expected and touchy subjects are intentionally avoided.