Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Collapsing Space and Time

When I was a child, someone told me that we live in days of miracle and wonder. Looking back, I can't remember if it was an ecclesiastical leader or Paul Simon who said so. I am guessing it was an ecclesiastical leader, because the way telephones collapsed space and time seemed to be part of the supporting argument (and for Mormons like me, calling people from church on the phone is an important religious duty).

You see, when contrasted with letters, which communicate primarily between the writer's past and the reader's present, a phone call really is an amazing thing. Two places can be in the same time at once! My father tells me that before I was a child this seldom happened. My mother's birth in 1959, he'd tell us, actually came before his birth in 1957, because her birthplace (Utah) was always at least ten years behind his birthplace (California) in those days. Ten to hundred year variations between places were normal back then.

My blog, and the surrounding backdrop of the internet, have changed all that. People can read my blog virtually instantly, get updated on what's happening right now, and for once Utahns and Californians can be in the same time at the same time! Time and space are thus collapsed, often into a single word.

The only people who will be left out of this new global connectedness, I think, will be people who spend their time with the ghosts of internet past (e.g. reading Johannes Gutenberg's blog) and people whose internet connections are slower than carrier pigeons.

The rest of us, though, will be able to live in a Utopian Global Village in which distinctions of space and time no longer matter. Even differences in income will become irrelevant--what difference, after all, does a wage make for people too busy responding to email to eat?

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