Anyone really familiar with my rantings has probably figured out by now that I live in the middle of nowhere. Well, scratch that — I can’t really say that in all honesty, because of the road sign on Route 19 southbound that reads NOWHERE 7 MI. But suffice to say, on the right morning you can smell the cows. And they aren’t that far away.
Now, there are compensations, certainly. Property is almost absurdly cheap compared to what you pay in the cities. Most days you could take a nap on the road in front of my house without being disturbed by traffic. And the neighbors, while loud, heavily armed, and possibly inbred, are a safe distance away at all times.
That said, this isn’t exactly the center of the universe with regard to technology. More like the Kuiper belt. But that doesn’t make mobile technology less important — indeed, it’s when you get into the wide open spaces that modern mobility takes on a whole new meaning.
While the big cities are traditionally thought of as the high-tech capitals, there’s a certain degree to which that very quality makes certain advances less revolutionary. Cellular phones may have been a big step forward from phone booths, but they’re an even bigger step forward when there are a half a dozen payphones in a town, and they’re all at least four miles away. Or for that matter, when the wireline phones are as unreliable as they are out here.
As technology advances, it requires less and less infrastructure to do the same things, and to do them with greater ease. From the telegraph, to the telephone, to the modern mobile dropped in someone’s pocket, technology becomes lighter, faster, and better as it evolves. We often forget to apprecciate the sheer scope of the technological revolution that’s all around us, becoming adjusted to it on a day to day basis.
Twenty-five years ago, it would have been inconceivable that military-grade positioning technology would be casually in use by somebody on a trip down US-20 to Erie, PA. Fifteen years ago, the amount of information available to a person in my town was limited to what was present at the local library. Then the Internet came along, and put pretty much the whole sum of human knowledge in your living room. Now all that is available from an increasing number of tiny, portable connected devices, usable anywhere, powered off a battery which at one point would have been suitable only for a toy.
Today, from almost anywhere, I can take a photograph and send it across a planet-spanning information network to someone fifteen thousand miles away in less time than it took the instant cameras of yesteryear to develop. I can look up nearly any subject while standing in a creek as easily as as I can in a library. And all the while it’s getting easier, cheaper, and faster.
Imagine what we’ll be doing tomorrow.