Taken in Chelsea, MI 01/03/09 with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.
It's easy to forget the infrastructure that's required to support us as we sit down at a coffee shop somewhere, cruising the web on a laptop. It's all so instant, so immediate, and despite opinions to the contrary -- personal. We have friends and contacts via Flickr and other sites, that we most likely would never have had otherwise. Some of these people have become very good friends over the years, and with some I have a beer, go out shooting, exchange photographic items, prints, tell stories, help with a project, and all the things anyone does with a friend. I have local Ann Arbor friends that ask me if I know someone on Flickr, and if I'm not sure, I get the Flickr name, and then I know who it is if I do know them. My circle of friends and contacts has grown, not shrunken, as I age. (My workplace is so socially isolated, that it's not the place where one meets new people all the time, or even interacts with the public.)
Nope, the Internet, hasn't isolated us at all, but it has shown how interconnected things really are. We can share our lives via blogs, social networking sites, email, and via Flickr. We can publish books online and have them delivered to whomever wants to see our work. We can create art and sell it without having a real store. We can buy and sell on eBay, buying from and selling to people anywhere in the world. We can do our taxes, apartment searches, car buying, news reading, mate-matching, poker-playing, movie-watching, and so on, via the Web. In short, within the span of 15 years, the way we do almost anything has changed because of the Internet. No single cornerstone of technology has altered society so quickly.
For those of us who used computers before the dawn of the Internet, it's been an amazing transformation, to go from green screens connected to Compuserve at 300 bits per second, and thinking it was really, really cool to download that Basic program that could run on the Tandy TRS-80, to today's 2 pound netbook that runs at 1.6 GHz and has the world right there at our fingertips --and you don't even have to know how it works.
So, "We are all connected" has many meanings -- the infrastructure that supports our use of the internet, our connectedness due to online and in-person relationships, our small towns and cities, and our states and nations. We ARE all connected somehow, and let us hope that a new beginning in the White House with an administration that knows this to be true -- will put the USA and the world onto a better course in the coming years.