Gottfried Leibniz….if you know this name and what he did then give yourself 10 gold stars and a chocolate bar.
If not well he…..no go and look it up, But without him our world today would be very different. Sitting this morning in my favourite coffee shop, I was waiting for my wife to finish writing a few cards. I was getting a little frustrated because my phone would not connect to the free wifi. (is it ironic that my spell check does not recognise ‘wifi’). Anyway after a minute I decided to give up and enjoy people watching. Looking around the coffee shop (look I am fed up typing coffee shop all the time so its Café Nero OK). In Nero’s there were around thirty customers, I decided to count who was using technology while drinking. Well it was easier to see who wasn’t, three of us my wife, me and a gentleman to my right who was reading a paper. I was at first not surprised at this, the first thing I do when I get into Nero’s is check my phone, the same goes for my wife.
Then I decided to count those who walked past the windows and who was using a phone, in the ten minutes I kept this up for, I counted 367 people walk past, of these 278 were on the phone, 2 were using tablets, one person stopped balanced a laptop on a post. I live in a small town of around 40,000 including all the outlaying areas. In that ten minutes almost 1% of the population walked past and 80% of those were using technology. (By technology I mean modern communication).
Now I am old enough to remember telephones that you actually had to ‘dial’. They were cumbersome and six or seven numbers were all you needed. I am also older than the internet. But today it is all around us, mobile phone signals and wifi signals along with all the other radio signals. They are buzzing around us all the time. Looking out of the window at the sky, which was grey. I tried to imagine what the sky would look like if we could see all those signals in the air, different colours for different signals.
Imagine if we took my example of numbers and decided that 80% of the population were using mobile phones at any one time. If we round our population to 70million that means that 56 million people are on the phone at anyone time. Imagine 56 million little red lines shooting across the sky like pieces of wool.
Then there are those using wifi, and if you house is anything like ours the radio is constantly on (drowns out the children constant nagging).Then the signals for the Television, and then the radios that the emergency services use, or lorry drivers. It always amazes me how these invisible signals don’t get confused or run into each other. I understand the science behind it all, but still it is pretty amazing.
Back to Nero’s and me looking around at all the modern technology we use, the tills, the card payment machine’s (now also wifi). Even the coffee machine is computerised. I look at all this stuff and then remember how new it all is. It is since I was born that computers became small enough to leave buildings and then fitted into a room, and then left the room and fitted into a big box., and now they fit into your mobile phone which is small enough to fit into your jeans pocket. Computers have helped in every part of me getting that coffee. Growing, delivering it half way around the world. I am now trying to think of a business in this country that does not use modern technology in some part of their product chain. I can’t.
What if we turned the internet off, along with mobile phones and digital signals? Some would say we would be back in the 1950’s but I believe it would be further than that. My children’s generation does not know life without automation, television, computers and mobile phones are as natural to them as eating fresh fruit is to my generation. I had an idyllic upbringing in the country and enjoyed being outside. My parents subsidised shop brought produce with what we could grow on our small holding, I spent much of my spare time in my teens in the wilds, eating what I could forage, or catch. I was proud of being able to make fire without matches or a lighter. But even in my own generation these skills are not common. Because everything is now computer controlled, we would not have our fuel pumped or delivered to us, the food in the supermarkets would not get re-stocked. I am going slightly apocalyptical here aren’t I.
The pace of technological advancement in the last 50 years has been extreme. If someone from 1710 was transported to 1810 there would not be much difference, but if someone from 1910 was to be transported to now, can you imagine their mind overload.
‘Flying oh yes we do that everyday now’.
‘Telegram, no we don’t do those here use this phone made out of plastic with no buttons and send a video of your self to America’
Oh sorry plastic?…video?….well here let us sit down in this American owned Italian coffee shop selling Moroccan coffee as it has free’ wifi’ and I can show you on my tablet, how you can use the internet to get all the information you need, hey we can blog about it, or even set up your own webpage. We had better be quick because I have just had a text to say I can have laser eye surgery tomorrow, and they need to prep me first. Here use this door as it opens by itself, no you go sit down over there by the double glazed window, I will pay, I have my touch and go on my phone. I can transfer my money from the other account while we chat. Do you want a macchiato or latte? Skimmed milk or semi skimmed milk. Oh look I have had a tweet from Antarctica…Scott? Umm no sorry look I will show you what happened. Oh look I have had an email from the guys on the space station….
Till next time