Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Holy Shit, the Internet!

Take a step back and think about the damn Internet. Just think about it. Because holy shit, right? You're sitting at a computer (or standing with a phone) and reading my thoughts, and you can do that even if you're thousands of miles away.

Carl Sagan once said "Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic." Books carry ideas through time. The Internet carries ideas through space, and it does so almost instantaneously.
Incidentally, by invoking his assessment I'm proving it right

I mean, my god, look at Twitter. Go there, type "monkey" in the search bar, and you'll see what people all over the world are saying about monkeys. Go to YouTube and you'll find eight years of video uploaded every day. From everywhere. Go to Amazon and you can have almost anything delivered to your doorstep within a few days (or one day if you don't mind paying extra). Go to Wikipedia and you'll find what basically amounts to the sum total of human knowledge.

The fact that we have Wi-Fi and data plans on phones just makes the Internet even more astounding. In the late 1970s, Science fiction/comedy writer Douglas Adams began writing stories about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The eponymous guide is an electronic book that contains all the most important knowledge of the Galaxy. It's portable and accessible anytime, anywhere.
And it has this in big, friendly letters on the cover.

With Wi-Fi and smart phones coupled with Wikipedia, we have that now. Even better, we have an interactive version of it. We have forums where you can ask someone on the other side of the world to clarify something confusing, and the device you use to make that connection fits in your goddamn pocket. Can we shut up about flying cars and agree that this is the future? Because we have, in many ways surpassed 20th Century science fiction.

I'll leave you with Isaac Asimov. In 1991, he saw the potential of computer networking, and in an interview he talked at length about its potential for use in education:

What he's talking about is the Internet. He nailed it twenty-two years ago. You might say he didn't expect people to be wasting time with things like My Little Pony fan fiction, but I think he covered that pretty well when he said, "However silly it might seem to someone else, that's what you're interested in." That's the Internet for you. For better or worse, it's the epitome of democratic education.

And it's my link to everyone from friends in San Francisco and strangers in Japan.

Holy shit.

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