I almost pity people who are growing up now with no knowledge of what life was like before the internet came along. What still seems a miracle to me — on days when I’m not getting bombarded with spam, or some punk isn’t trying to destroy my computer with malware — is a boring norm to more people every year.
True story: a couple of decades ago I asked my grandmother, who was born in 1910, to pick the most amazing technological advance of her life. I figured maybe it was the airplane, or even the computer, although computers were just getting out of the gate at that time. She thought about it a while, then said, “Electricity.”
What she meant was that until sometime in the 1930’s, electricity was not a given in daily life for a lot of people (and for some it would take much longer). When electricity finally got wired up to your house, and you weren’t using lanterns to see after dark, it changed everything. [ Read more ]