I always wondered what it would have been like for those people who went out and bought Led Zeppelin IV when it came out, put it on and heard “Stairway to Heaven“ for the first time. Did they know then, the power of the song? Did they, somehow, imagine that it would last forever; and so many decades later, more and more of us would be listening to it, again and again, as quick as those fingers strum the guitar?The one predominant reason it could last is because we have managed to compress and store this song, and other invaluable items – be it films, music or data on politics, economics, and anthropology, among many others, in excellent condition. You see, the Internet is throbbing; it moves and pulsates; it grows and it dies; it changes yet stays the same; things get lost; but mostly, things remain just the way they are and carve themselves into it forever. However, let us pause and examine the computer first, minus the cyberspace, and then explore the Net and finally combine the two. The computer is, firstly, our writing pad and our working pad; we think in terms of the word documents these days. Writers, journalists, graphic artists, and anybody working, will have dozens of spreadsheets and excel documents to make their work simpler.Secondly, it provides entertainment. Music and movies have become the two pillars of our lives and our computers source them both. Thirdly, it has an endless storage capacity. Think about it. Everything that is important to you, condenses into a CD or a file – be it your CV or those irreplaceable family pictures. When we open ourselves to the larger world, it can often be overwhelming. Yet, people claim to be bored. I simply cannot fathom how that word came into existence. How rich, how rewarding, how delightfully different we all are, and how amazingly we’re using the same tools! We are being brought together by a huge common denominator called the ‘World Wide Web’. Forget emailing and staying in touch; cyberspace has become such an integral part of our social lives that if we are somewhere interesting, we automatically start composing a blog-post in our heads; and if we take pictures, we tend to think of which one would make a good profile picture. There are tens and thousands of blogs that are up for reading – admittedly a large portion of these aren’t updated regularly or very well written or even very popular. However, just the quality of life that shines through, portrays an epiphany to make you understand that mere thought is important enough to be put down by someone. Inspite of these, there are some downsides. Jon Stewart at the Oscars, played a parody. He was watching a movie on an I-pod and he said, “Wait a moment, let’s watch it widescreen” and turned the tiny I-pod horizontal. This got a hearty laugh from the audience, because, as the very makers of film, they know that movies are meant to be seen IN A THEATRE. So let’s look at what it’s like to have stuff available at the palm of one’s hand. First, what has been immensely underplayed, is the compatible software that IT companies are fond of monopolizing, Apple computers do not let you use Windows, your I-pod does not let you use any other media player except for I-tunes and even then, all your videos have to be in an MPEG format which means that the movie CD you have lying around has just received the status of ‘junk’. Because it won’t magically transfer itself to your I-pod. You need to first get a player that converts it to MPEG, then wait for it to convert, then add, and then sync. Also, I think the ones among us, who have had their hard drive crash, will know how devastating it is to lose all that you have been collecting as retrieval is a bleak possibility.These days, most publications have technologically revamped themselves. Online versions of magazines like TIME, articles can be heard in audio format and downloaded as RSS feeds and you can even hear them on your Ipod! It has changed the way we live, think and deal with situations. My one source of never ending information is the Google search engine and Wikipedia, and the reason why they are so phenomenally successful is because all the information is available in one place, at one time. There is absolutely nothing that you cannot get which, in some philosophical way, confirms how we are as people, as humanity. There is nothing that we cannot do together and the Internet is just that – lots and lots of smaller places where like-minded people reside. These days, technology has taken over to a greater extent that one can imagine. Often, when I misplace my keys, I attempt to dial my cell phone. Such is the amalgamation of technology with our lives. The wires have changed our world this correspondent is more than happy for the revolution.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkbeltrage/86508506/]