Here in my small 5 x 8 ft. study I’m connected with thousands of people. I live, part-time, in my computer. Amazing! (In reality I have a different chair and desk, the bookshelf is behind me, and things are much more chaotic than they appear here.)
As I child I waited for the bookmobile to come to our neighborhood to get new books; the small trailer sat at the bottom of the street next to the lot where we played football. It had 200 or 300 books! Sometimes my Mom drove me to the small branch of the county library a few miles away, but often she was … busy! The main branch had perhaps 100,000 volumes, but was too far away for frequent visits. Thus a lot of my knowledge about the world came from episodes of “The Adventures of Superman” and “Leave It To Beaver.”
So books were the only source of real knowledge. By the time I was in college a far bigger library was at my disposal, but the books you wanted weren’t always there. You could use inter-library loan, but that was a cumbersome process. What effort it took to get information back then. Now it all comes to me, and I share my thoughts with thousands of people a day. In fact, “There are 25 Petabytes (10^15) created every day and thrown into the internet. This is 70 times larger than the Library of Congress.”
Yes deciphering all these facts and figures is impossible; that’s why we call it information overload. We need augmented intelligence and/or artificial intelligence to make sense of all this data. But it comes to me not in a little truck once a month at the end of a little street in a little neighborhood, but electronically.
Thank you science and technology, thank you Alan Turing and all the other engineers and computer scientists for delivering this real miracle. For now I don’t have be isolated as I age. For as long as my mind functions, I am connected to the world.
I am nostalgic thinking about that little truck on that little street in that little neighborhood. But I’m glad I don’t live in that world any more.