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Term used to refer to the vast intergalactic communications network that all civilizations use to talk to themselves and others. The point is that it is impossible to trust any data coming to you over a channel where the message may have been automatically translated between various languages--maybe more than once. Even when the creator isn't flat out lying, doesn't have an ulterior motive, and actually has a clue about his subject matter he is probably too different from you for you to be able to assess his meaning or motivations.

A lesson that applies, in somewhat milder terms, to today's Internet.

Coined by Vernor Vinge in his novel A Fire Upon The Deep.

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