Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Communication Generation

It's truly amazing to me how far the telecommunications industry has come over the past few years. It's incredible to stop and think how impatient you get when you can't call someone on their cellphone. Not too long ago, I was in high school, and I had a PAGER. That was pretty sweet, because as long as someone was by a phone that accepted incoming calls, you could always get in touch with them. Now, obviously, we have cellular phones. Everyone always knows where everyone else is and what they are doing, and if they can't talk right now, well, you can text message them! I think the younger generation takes this for granted, but I can remember when I was nine years old and went for a bike ride for a couple hours, and my parents thought I was dead. I can remember the look of relief on their faces. Now the nine year olds have MotoRazrs. I am guilty myself. When I can't reach Jena for an hour, I sometimes start to fear the worst. Ten years ago, I would have thought "she'll be home when she's home".

The communication revolution seems especially incredible as I read some of the books I have read lately. The War of 1812 was basically over, the British and American delegations having signed the Treaty of Ghent. Today, this would all be done over a videoconference being streamed live to the State Department. Back then, the American delegation had to get back on the boat to come back to Washington to tell everyone that they could stop fighting. Now, if anyone has ever heard of the Battle of New Orleans, it was fought while the ship was sailing. Pretty amazing stuff. A pivotal battle in a war being fought after the war is over! Kind of funny to think that the US actually won the war after they had already stopped fighting.

Now, this all comes with a price. Now you can't claim ignorance as a reason for not doing something. "I couldn't find Bob, so I couldn't work on this widget" is no longer valid. Bob is always available, and so are you. People can always find you. If they don't have your cell phone number, they can call the other thousand people they know to get it. You are always "around". I still haven't necessarily reconciled that part of the communication revolution.

I guess there wasn't really much point to this post other than to stop and say "wow", because things go on in the world that we simply take for granted, and they are often pretty incredible.


lapsed cannibal said...

Pagers! Back when I was in school, we didn't have that kind of newfangled technology. We basically communicated by smoke signals, or telegraph, or by talking very loudly.

But really I think the communication revolution has gotten kind of out of hand. Case in point: Twitter. Seriously, what the hell. The younguns might need this kind of constant information feed, but honestly I find it absolutely bewildering.