Can there have been a more life changing invention in my lifetime than THE INTERNET? Well, apart from the microwave oven, oh and micro surgery, clingfilm and the mobile phone, but you get my drift.
It affects every aspect of our everyday lives. How we shop, how we communicate, how we learn.
Our generation have been the ones to benefit from it first. From the tentative first volley on TV Tennis and shuffle about on Pacman, to the endless possibilities of launching a music career, teaching someone to crochet or editing your own photographs the world has been opened up thanks to electronics.
There are fond memories of the first BBC computer I ever saw. The little blinking cursor and a whole lot of jumbled coding messages were incomprehensible to me. There was the overriding fear that I might ‘break it’. We didn’t need to worry, it was so inevitable that Alan Sugar was on it like a rash with Amstrad, and Clive Sinclair with the ZX. Then Stephen Jobs and Apple made it beautiful and the rest as they say is history.
Today we don’t need to even think about how the programmes work they just do. Although the mysteries of Windows 10 may never be understood, it’s a universal truth that lots of things are sorted out by “switching it off and switching it back on again”.
In Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects the final choice from all the rare and precious items was a simple solar panel and charger. It moved me that giving a little light in the darkest corners of the world was regarded as having made such a major contribution to society. Harnessing free solar energy to light rudimentary homes, work machinery and power cheap and robust laptops so a child can study, and be in contact with the rest of the world changes people’s lives immeasurably.
Communication has undergone a complete revolution. A letter, once the highlight of someones day, or the only means of communicating news of any sort, is almost extinct. Its been contracted into an e mail, a text or even a tweet. Twitter is an online social networking service which enables you to make your point or communicate your message in 140 characters but no mor…..so if you like to talk, its not for you.
Once upon a time we sent a postcard from our trips, today Astronaut Tim Peake can send an internet message to say he’s passing over Norwich and we can go outside and wave. There’s Skype and FaceTime where we all wish we’d brushed our hair, and weren’t standing by the ironing pile when we answered the call. Its instant and easy.
Decades ago a set of The Encyclopaedia Britannica would have been a prized possession in any home. Now, if I want to know the name of the giant satellite dish at Goonhilly Downs or what a manatee eats for breakfast the information is only a click away. (Arthur and submerged vegetation in case you’re interested).
Its sad in a way that there are women and men of my age who aren’t connected to the world wide web because its a hindrance not to be. How else would you be able to check the rules of entry to the Dickinson’s Real Deal competition? So if there are people in your family who don’t know who the Kardashian’s are or how to prune gooseberry bushes…or even more important things than that – spare the time to help them find out.