I got this email today:
What do we have here? Well, certainly, for his next birthday I’m buying my dad punctuation marks and capital letters! More than that, a check of the originating IP address shows he sent this from on-board ship.
My mom and dad are cruising, but the Internet is there with them.
I remember when Helaine and I took a cruise many years ago. We stopped in Puerto Rico and rushed to a pay phone to check in with everyone back home. Same thing in St. Thomas (in fact, I can still picture the pay phones to the left of the main door of the St. Thomas Post Office).
It wasn’t that there weren’t phones on the ship, but it was ridiculously expensive.
Yesterday, my friend Peter left for three weeks on Maui. I spoke to him as he went to the airport. I spoke to him in San Francisco, waiting for a delayed flight. I spoke to him once he got to his Maui hotel. Each time I dialed the same South Jersey cellphone number.
Each of my calls were included in my cell plan with no additional charge… in fact, with no meter even clicking off the minutes.
Calling Hawaii, like making a call from a cruise ship, used to be expensive. No more.
I also played around a little, calling my friend Bob in Austin, TX using Skype. The quality was great, using my laptop on the sofa in the family room and a cheap headset. Of course the call was totally free.
This ability to communicate, whether by computer or phone or a combination of the two is amazing – something we in the 21st century share with no other moment in history. It is, unfortunately, limited to the wealthy.
A little clarification. In this case wealthy applies to the vast majority of people in the United States and many more around the world, who are included in a global middle class. They are only wealthy in contrast to those who are dirt poor – and there are many who fit that category.
Now, maybe there is hope for them to benefit from this communications and knowledge explosion, fueled by computing.
I saw Nicholas Negroponte with Charlie Rose on PBS. Negroponte heads MIT’s Media Lab, a communication and information think tank
That’s some of the least explanatory prose ever written by otherwise educated people.
Negroponte was on to talk about a project I’ve been following for a while – a $100 laptop, to be produced in bulk and distributed for free to students around the world.
If this is the first you’re hearing about this project, please go to their site and read more. It’s really an amazing undertaking.