Saturday, 30 January 2010

It's a small world

This blogging is something new to me. I've known for some time that quite a few people in the world are doing it, but not wishing to let the computer take over any more of my life I had never investigated it until now. I'd really just thought of it as being like having an on-line diary, a sophisticated version of the paper record that I kept for 10 years between 1977 and 1987.

However, having started this up and tinkered with the technology I am starting to appreciate what the differences are. Excuse my technically literate readers for a description of the (to them) extremely obvious. As well as my verbal ramblings I can also include photographs taken literally just a few minutes previously: one bit of software transfers them from the camera to my computer and then puts them up somewhere in cyberspace so that another piece of software can take them and create a slideshow on my blog. I can find some other information on the intranet and link to that. I can put a link in my blog to a website where you can all listen to the music of the band that I have just come home from watching.

Then again, during this afternoon I had several free crystal-clear Skype conversations with friends in France and Britain, and could have used my web cam to show them my luxury apartment. (Note to non-Skype users: please install Skype and get a headset so that you can call me, talk for free and see my apartment). While that was happening I was watching the text updates of this afternoon's Sheffield Wednesday game, live from Hillsborough.

Having all of this communication technology makes living in Budapest somehow not quite so distant. I remember that when I went to live in the Sudan in 1977 that it would take at least a week (and probably two or three) for a letter to get from the UK to my small town. And as for phoning home, completely impossible. The thought of that was as in the realms of science fiction.

As I wander around the city during the day and night I am also struck by the number of non-Hungarian young people around, British, French, American and the rest. I think quite a few come here to study in one of the city's universities, and again, that is something that very few of my contemporaries would have thought about doing back in the 1970s. Technology, cheap air fares and the European Union are some of the things that we can thank for that.

So what does all this mean? People of my generation grew up in a quite insular society, and not very many people travelled extensively, and even fewer lived abroad, taking the opportunity to learn something about another culture. Nowadays the world is so much smaller, we all know so much more about other people and perhaps to some extent we are less divided. But will this generation take that sense of integration onwards with them so that we do have a 'global village' by the middle of this century?

Or will inertia stop them? After all, my generation sang about peace and love and yet we seem to have made a pretty good job of screwing things up.

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