Evolution -> Revolution

8 Jan

In our global online journey, there are occasional epiphany moments: incidents that make you realize how much technology is changing our civilization.

One comes for me today: I am flying transcontinentally at 36,000 feet today, on an airliner with free wifi. My Mac is running SlingPlayer, which allows me to watch my home television over the internet.

I am live-blogging about watching the College Football Championship Game live, in real-time, as I make my way across the country. I am IM’ing about the game with pals; I am getting real-time game update and stats from various websites, and absorbing a great deal of social media from a variety of great websites. I have a virtual newsroom operating at Seat 3D.

A contrast: This month 19 years ago I was in the Mideast covering the Persian Gulf War. I had a TRS-80, (a Tandy machine that was virtually indestructable and which we affectionately called a ‘Trash 80’). I used an accoustic coupler — earmuffs that attached to a landline phone handset that frequently didn’t work. When it malfunctioned, I used my Swiss Army knife to unscrew the hotel phonejack faceplate. I stripped the wires of the twisted pair and ran a phone line tester to check which was red and green, then I attached alligator clips to the copper wire landline to file my copy at the breathtaking rate of….wait for this…300 Baud…..AND I FELT LIKE A PIONEER IN THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!

In the subsequent decades, there have been other epiphany moments. And much of the change of technology continues to evolve, rather than change things overnight. I have learned profound change does take time.

That said, tonight’s epiphany moment to me feels equal to a Town Crier seeing the first electronic stock ticker in the late 19th Century, or the linotype operators of the 1930s seeing WYSIWYG electronic publishing of the 1980s.

It is breath-taking, and so I chose to take a moment here at 6 miles above the surface of the earth, to watch Alabama face Texas and to say:

What Hath God Wrought, Indeed…


One Response to “Evolution -> Revolution”

  1. Ian Kennedy January 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    The world has changed indeed, physical and virtual spaces are collapsing. I just returned from Tokyo where my son downloaded a free Pokemon character for his Nintendo DS at a McDonald’s WiFi hotspot.


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