Age of Wonders
We live in an age of wonders.
Come on, look at us. I don’t know who you are or where you live, but I can absolutely guarantee that you have access to some sort of gadget that lets you access the internet – because you’re reading this now.
How amazing is that? I’m way over here, typing my words into a laptop that will let me share them with you – with everyone else in this class – and potentially with millions of other people all over the world. Pretty cool, huh?
We live in a world where an ordinary person can write something and make it available to millions of others. Where an ordinary person can go looking and find essays, poetry, stories –anything – written by people all over the world. It’s amazing.
Can you imagine that just one lifetime ago, it was so expensive to share your thoughts with people far away that most people could only write letters or make phone calls? That’s right, you could only talk to a couple of people at a time, unless they were in the room with you.
Can you imagine that just one lifetime ago, the only way to reach out to lots of people was so expensive that you had to get personal approval from a company to do it? That’s right, publishers, broadcasters, and studios were gatekeepers of the media, judging who was worthy to let their voice be heard.
Can you imagine that just one lifetime ago, you had to go to the library or the bookstore if you wanted something to read? And that you were limited to the selection that was available? That’s right, you could actually run out of things to read, or not be able to find the thing you wanted at all.
And now… it’s over.
Now I want you to stop and think, and answer me truly. That’s right, say it out loud even though I can’t hear you (unless you record it and post the audio file). Don’t worry about feeling silly, just say it out loud. (Unless you’re online from a library, because talking in the library is rude.) Just answer this one question: Can you read the entire internet?
I didn’t think so.
That’s right, we now have so much information available that it is literally impossible for one person to consume it all.
There is so much stuff online today that the problem is digging through it to find the bits you want. And it’s available to normal people, not just the rich. And normal people can add more, without having to get approved by gatekeepers who think they know what ideas you should think.
Some people like to speculate about what a post-scarcity economy will look like. Well, we’ve pretty much achieved it for information. We’re not going to run out of things to read ever again. It’s mind-blowing.
This is what an age of wonders looks like, and we’re all alive to see it.