Thursday, September 02, 2004

Old Ties that Suit Well
I chatted with Samit for the first time this morning. Samit is a guy who I remember as a gifted quizzard from my school days and is now a gifted writer. We have never spoken, not even the social "hi and hello", and yet I spent an hour chatting with him and that made me realize the power of the Internet medium once again.

I have always been amazed by the fact that never has there been a technology shift so powerful that you change your communication medium completely in less than a decade. The telephone took a fair amount of time before becoming commonplace (and it never affected the snail mail much), television was a dabbler too (and the radio still did well), but the Internet - boy, did it zoom into out social system. Six years back when I was in college, my dad used to write me a letter (remember that paper-based thing) every week and I used to love reading his insight on several issues. These days I just wake up in the morning and open my mail account to read Bubin's synopsis of all things Kolkattan. So here’s a list of the 5 things I completely take for granted right now that I didn't even imagine seven years back:

5. Using the computer as a multimedia hub - I buy/play/archive my music, watch movies, stream radio stations etc, all using my 5lb laptop. Frankly, if forced, I can do away with my music system or TV and use the computer for all their needs.

4. Voice over IP - a professor of Indian origin once told me that in his days as a student they would just call home to say they are fine and still run the risk of spending a fortune - come Internet telephony and we even ask our parents to hold on to the line while we finish adding salt to the dal.

3. E-mail: Could you imagine even a decade back that mails will be delivered at the press of a button, that you will have an address that will be free of the whims of your local postman, that something@something.com will be all that you need to get reliable mail delivery? I am still amazed.

2. Google - I do almost all my searching for information on Google. Earlier one needed to be well read or at least in the company of well read people to gather information easily. Places called libraries were information warehouses. But now you just type it in your Google toolbar and hola! As a matter of fact I have asked a bunch of my friends about the one site that affects them the most and the answer has been unanimous - the search is on.

1. The number one shift I still feel is chatting or instant messaging. Actually the items from number 3-1 on this list can all be interchanged since I am equally amazed by all of them but chatting I feel is a MAJOR sociological change and that's why I put it on top. Come on! We actually created new words or acronyms (asl, ur, 4ever) to use this medium. It showed that real-time multi way conversations are possible in a non voice form and that to me is true Innovation.

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