Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Back to the Future

Well, I am glad that doing more blogging wasn’t one of my New Year’s resolutions! Apologies for the lack of updates here, but sometimes life has a habit of getting in the way of your plans. I have been working on a couple of projects this month and time has been in fairly short supply for anything else :-)

I spoke in my last post of living in interesting times. Well, those times just keep on rolling. Firstly in Tunisia, and now in Egypt, the people are making their voices heard and it looks like there may be major changes ahead in the region. It reminds me a lot of the wind of change that blew through Europe in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and which saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the melting of the Iron Curtain. Back then millions of people were released from oppressive regimes and the world celebrated along with them. Only time will tell what will happen this time around, but I suspect that the international reaction may be a little more muted on this occasion. Instability in that part of the world would not be appreciated, and yet freedom from oppression – in whatever form it takes – is always welcome. I guess we will all just have to wait and see what happens.

An interesting aspect of this story is the prominent role that social media has had in helping the protesters to organize themselves. We really do live in a different world now. Back in 1989 when the Wall was coming down we didn’t even have an internet. Now, many millions of people manage their lives via social media platforms. It has never been easier for the people of the world to communicate with each other, and to have access to information previously hidden from them. Information technology has become a very useful tool in the fight for true freedom.

Back in the day, when I was a young boy watching the first runs of Star Trek, having a door that slid open as you approached it seemed like the height of advanced technology. Now you can get that at your local Wal-Mart! Portable communication devices, hand held tablet computers and video calls were all science fiction at its most imaginative back then, but all are now very much part of our everyday lives. It is truly amazing the advances that have come our way in the last 40 years or so, and especially in the last 20 years.

I was reminded of this just the other day when I noticed Dori watching a music video over the internet via her iPod. And all I could think was “wow, we really do live in the future!” Try explaining that picture to that small boy back in the late 60’s/early 70’s who was so amazed that you could hear music from putting a piece of plastic on a rotating plate and dropping a needle onto it! The times they are a-changing, and a-changing at an ever increasing speed it seems. Hold on tight because if the next 20 years are anything like the last 20 then we may not recognize the world that will be 2031. The journey could be fun though.

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