A different before and since.
Of course we're always being informed that the latest great invention that
will change everything is upon us. Private automobiles can, for instance,
probably make a good claim for being among the most pivotal inventions along these
lines, and I've seen a well thought out argument for birth control pills as the
world changing invention. Around the turn of the century, Edge
hosted a special issue devoted to an examination of the most important invention
of the past 2000 years. The responses, from a very impressive list of top-rank
scientists and thinkers, were fascinating, and a great read, even
the second time around. Even in this age of extreme hype, the internet certainly
seems to be at least a finalist along these lines, but if I had to make a choice
between it and other modern day inventions, I think I'd probably give a higher
ranking to the cellular phone.
The internet may offer us access to a
wealth of information, but (at least until mobile) this information was something
that we met from a set venue. We had to gather our information at that venue and
then prepare ourselves for using it - either where we were, or for "taking
out". The cellular, on the other hand, established a new relationship between
ourselves and our surroundings. It has erased our reliance on a "home base".
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