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Monday, November 24, 2008

A Shrinking World

I'm old enough to remember a time before the Internet, rotary dial phones, and home computers being a luxury rather than a commonplace item. Anyone remember computer programs on cassettes? And before you go thinking that I'm ready to retire, I'm 39. These changes in our society have come on very quickly, and I don't think that people born after MTV really understand just how much things have changed.

One of the things that has most impressed and amazed me is how much smaller the world now seems. My father is Swedish, and I remember what a big deal it was for him to talk to his family back in Sweden. Now it's a simple matter of a quick and free email, and you can make international calls practically for free via internet phone services. We as fans of the Net have found ways to come together in ways that would never have been imagined 20 years ago. I've been using email and internet-like services for about 15 years now (remember BBS's? Newsgroups being more common than web sites?), and have gotten to know many people around the world through various forums and sites that I've belonged to.

Over the last few years I have developed acquaintances and friendships with people in England, Australia, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, and all over the US. With most of those people, I have no idea what they look or sound like, and may not have ever learned their real name. Yet I have gotten to know them rather well, and have even helped them over the computer like I would any friend by phone. I've also been able to keep in touch with "real" friends by computer easier than by phone. This blog has been viewed by people in the UK and New Zealand, and maybe others that haven't made their presence known.

The internet isn't just a cool place to meet new people. As a medical professional I can look at articles and consult with specialists around the world, something I wouldn't be able to do with local resources. I can research things professionally and for personal use without ever getting out of bed.

So look at how our world has shrunk, and we can now interact and communicate in mere seconds to people in virtually every corner of the globe.