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Markus Krajewski Small Theory of the Time Table. Projectors, Technical Media, and Globalization around 1900 

With nearly inflationary use, around 1900 the prefix “world” is placed before such diverse projects as Sandford Fleming’s "unified world time," the implementation of a "world auxiliary language" (like Esperanto, Ido, or VolapŁk), the spread and circulation of a "world currency", and not least the standardization of various national units of measurement into a “world format“. This unusual clustering of such heterogenous plans, all of which add the prefix “world” to their programmatic titles, constitutes a number of undertakings at the turn of the 20th century with maximum scope. One could speak of a real series of world projects whose roots and their common historical a priori this paper seeks to analyze. What conditions and contexts make such a boom possible? What are the the cultural technologies and technical media which produce such projects? And finally, what strategies succeeded in the translation of those plans into practice? In light of these central questions, the paper traces the development of technical transport networks in order to generalize this process to a small theory of the time table. Indeed, in that period of upheaval, specific processes like the consolidation of global traffic networks or the regular inventory of national economic power within the context of the World’s Fair contribute to the feasibility of such ambitious plans and nearly demand their transformation into worldwide standards. What cultural and media-technological configurations, structures and figures of thought configure globalisation around 1900 and smooth the way from the local to the global – for travellers as well as for goods or information? One of the possible answers, which is held up as a leading proposition here, lies hidden in the formation of global transport. Its networks of cables, routes and shipping lines, of junctions, cross-overs and transfers which are differentiated ever more finely, merge into a highly integrated multi-media system or are bundled into a timetable ultimately become a requirement for the possibility of thinking the world as a project. At the fin de siŤcle, world transport restructures the wave of global reform projects like a unified world time in a specific fashion, and projectors like Sandford Fleming have no choice but to select the largest possible scope for their plans. In the second half of the 19th century, traffic interconnects into a network which, on the one hand, is persistently expanding to establish its functionality in constantly finer branches, ultimately in worldwide scope. On the other hand, this network called global transport systematically smooths the principal difference of locomotion by land or sea. The question, then, is what precisely seems to have suggested to entrepreneurs around 1900 the notion of an all-encompassing scope for their ideas, in the wake of this interconnection of the disparate modes of transmission into a single integrated transit system. Or asked differently, what experiences on a regional level permit those world projectors to carry their plans over to the worldwide scale, what mechanism provides for the transition from the local to the global? The crux of the matter – to formulate an answer as an hypothesis – the actual innovation of global transit, which provides for multiple transmissions at each moment at the intersections of its network, lies in the moment of transition itself, in the nearly imperceptible change between the individual means of transit or media. What is decisive is that global transit as a system offers a multitude of “possible transport connections” at every junction, at each of its switchpoints. Each train station or harbor, through the crossing of various routes, possesses a great potential for contact, a high connectivity, which proves to the traveler to be the nearly limitless connectivity of the transport system itself. In other words, under the conditions of global transit, the itinerary of a journey can rely on a hitherto unknown contingency of routes which ultimately promise to bring everything together. None of the contemporaries of the fading 19th century gave better proof of this hypothesis than Phileas Fogg, perhaps the most famous connectivity traveller and stoic hero from Jules Verne’s 1874 novel Around the World in 80 Days. Therefore, this paper examines and explores the promises of the global transit system with an exemplary reading of mainly two books: Verne’s novel on the one hand, and on the other (inevitably) Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide which is supposed to be the paper companion of every traveller around 1900.