As I’ve mentioned previously, I am a fledgling watch collector. I currently own about a dozen wristwatches and three pocket watches. I am also a member on several online watch forums, where people get together and talk about – what else? – watches. They post photos of their latest purchases, there are all sorts of philosophical discussions about the merits of one brand or movement over another, and there’s even some buying and selling and swapping going on.

The part that stands out to me in all of this is the diversity in the forum members’ locations – the main forum I visit is based in Sweden, and there are members on it from every continent except Antarctica. You could find yourself posting a question, and having no two responses coming from the same country or even the same time zone – say, the first from Australia, followed by Germany, Canada, somewhere in the Caribbean, India, South Korea, and so forth. Many different backgrounds, many different lives and lifestyles, but all brought together by a common interest.

Members also help other members with locating and sometimes purchasing watches that are not always available in their home countries. I was recently involved in two such transactions – one for a watch I wanted that is made and sold only in India, and one for a U.S.-sold watch another member in England wanted for his collection, but could not afford to get shipped to him otherwise. Thanks to online ordering, global financial transaction services like PayPal, and the skillful mastery of each home country’s postal systems, these types of activities go on all the time and are perfectly safe. The watch I received from India took less than a week to travel halfway around the world, while the one I sent to England saved its new owner about 2/3 of the original cost he was quoted. Both arrived at their destinations in pristine condition.

I use all of this to illustrate how much smaller the world has become here in the age of the Internet. The transformation has been dramatic: in about the same amount of time it has taken for my daughter to grow up to adulthood, our society has moved from slow, crude (compared to today), one-to-one computer bulletin board systems (BBS’s) to sophisticated websites and e-mail services. Simple text files were a major stumbling block in the BBS days, and sending graphics like photos to one another was unthinkable; now, we can have live streaming video from the other side of the world sent to our desktops with a picture quality that rivals cable TV. Those watch transactions would have been impossible to complete or consider. Even this blog’s graphical appearance was unimaginable all those years ago. The latest breakthrough? Being able to carry the Web with you in your pocket or anywhere else in the world using smartphones or laptop computers and wireless networks.

What’s next? That’s hard to predict, but one thing is certain: the world will be even smaller then than it is now, and the generations to come will likely shake their heads and wonder how we were able to accomplish so much in our “larger” world.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Today's Reality, Tomorrow's Dreams, Yesterday's Memories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far

Lelisia "Lee" Hall

I also have an unusual number of watches! I love pocket watches especially, and have about four (not that they all still work.) Another of my obsessions, one might say, are fountain pens! I have dozens of those, and much prefer writing with them than with any of the cheaper, tossable Bics and whatnots. They make such a bolder line, every jot and tittle, so to speak, is clear and firm. Most “ordinary” pens seems insipid and washed out in comparison.

April 27th, 2010 at 10:24 am

One of my three pocket watches doesn’t work either…and it will cost many more times what it’s worth to have it repaired. So, it will probably sit for quite a while.

Fountain pens! I haven’t owned one of those in maybe 25 years. They were always leaking and making a big mess all over my fingers. The closest thing I’ve found to them is the rollerball pen — bold writing like a fountain pen, but with the convenience (and no leaks) of a ballpoint. In another of my blog postings I talk about one of those, a Cross pen I’ve owned for 20-odd years that’s currently out being repaired for the third or fourth time. If you ever tire of fountain pens or want a good alternative, give the rollerballs a try!

April 27th, 2010 at 5:17 pm

” – And then, they traveled to the stars, and their Galaxy shrank before their very eyes!”

April 28th, 2010 at 2:59 am

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