The March of Progress

I’m on my way home from a programming conference in Baltimore right now, typing this out on my new laptop. At the same time, I’m downloading videos from Amazon Video on Demand to watch on the flight through the airport Internet access. In my backpack, I have my Amazon Kindle with ninety-two books on it and hundreds of thousands more available with a couple of mouse clicks. In my pocket, I have my smartphone that can access virtually any website in the world, run a plethora of helpful applications as well as the more mundane placing and receiving of calls or text messages. The battery in the phone lasts all day almost no matter what I do with it. The battery in my laptop, if I’m careful, will last about five hours of active use.

Just a little over ten years ago I was flying to and from Taipei for work. I had a few books with me, a laptop crammed full of music (video was too large to store more than a little bit on a computer) and one game that I had bought to bring with me so I would have something to do in the hotel room. I carried a pager with me for text messages and a cell phone for calls, but I could only keep the cell phone on for a few hours at most even if all I did was just left it on … so I gave out my pager number for people to get a hold of me and then called them back on the cell phone after turning it on. The laptop battery lasted about five hours of listening to music and doing nothing else with the screen and everything else I could turned off on the plane.

A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have been taking a plane at all. What I can do in just a few hours now would have taken days on a train or weeks on a boat. For most, it would have been a one-way trip to start a new life rather than something taken at a whim or for leisure.

It is amazing how quickly things are changing within my lifetime compared to the period before it. I wonder what the next ten years will bring?


        

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