Thursday, October 9, 2008

Days of future shock

PhotobucketY'know, the Internet is kinda cool. I know, I know, this is self-evident, but honestly, sometimes I think we get used to technology so quickly we tend to forget how swell it can be. Sometimes you need to just stand back and go, "Whoa." This came to me yesterday as the boy and I tested out Skype for the first time -- video-phone calling my parents on the other side of the world, being able to see and talk to them in real-time video, which was amazing. Then after that I sat down and watched the second US presidential debate streaming on The New York Times web site, all the while of course checking in on various live-blogging reactions to it. Even four years ago, I couldn't have imagined doing any of this so easily. Video has just exploded online in the last year or two. It wasn't all that long ago that video-phone calling was the realm of science fiction. The web has so thoroughly entangled itself in everyday life that it's hard to imagine being completely cut off from it anymore. And I don't even own a Blackberry or iPhone.

Even say 15 years ago, moving to New Zealand would have been a lot more isolating proposition than it is now. Back then, Avril and I only communicated by letters and the rare phone call. "Instant" talk was rare. If we'd lived a century ago, we would've basically been saying goodbye to everyone we knew in America for good when we moved Down Under, with perhaps an occasional damp long-delayed letter. These days, thanks to email, Skype, Facebook, and the like, some days I practically forget I'm living in New Zealand and not just in a remote part of America. As Thomas Friedman puts it, the world is flat these days -- and getting flatter all the time. If only we could get teleportation figured out, life would be perfect!

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