Amazing Internet

These are two remarkable facts about our modern world. One is that it is incredibly amazing, and the other is that we’re incredibly blasé about that amazingness. Our attitude is just boring ho-hum. It takes effort to step back and realize how astonishing our world is — even compared to only a couple of decades ago. I think it would do us good to pause once in a while and admire what humans have been able to achieve in a relatively short period.

Here I will point out a little bit of that amazing stuff that I experienced yesterday.

Prakash, a friend in Mumbai, sent me this message on whatsapp — an amazing way to communicate instantaneously. Alright I will stop using “amazing” because it’ll get repetitious. Just note that all this is amazing.

Note the time — 1:19 PM my time.

Prakash, sitting in Mumbai, ordered a relatively obscure item (not an everyday household item) from a store in the US. The order was placed at 1:45 PM my time.

At 10:47 PM, Prakash sent me message saying the order had been delivered. It look only nine hours for Amazon to deliver the package. But there was a problem. It was not at my front door.

So Prakash forwarded the picture that the delivery person took when he/she delivered the package.

I realized what had happened: the delivery person had delivered it to the wrong address.

So there you have it. What happened is note worthy. Just a couple of decades ago, this would not have been remotely (pun intended) possible. Prakash would have written to me or made an expensive international call; then I would have gone to some store (Fry’s or Circuit City), asked them to order me the item, the item would have arrived at the store or mailed to my address in about a week or 10 days, etc.

It would have taken a trip to a store — time and money spent. It’s what economists call “transaction costs”. Moreover, it would have taken at least 10 days but now it took all of nine hours, and practically zero transactions cost.

Amazon is amazing, and so are many other modern enterprises that we take for granted and use without a second thought. A dear friend of mine mispronounces ‘Amazon’ consistently. He calls it “amaze-on” instead of “ama-zon.” Perhaps his pronunciation suits the company better. It is time we kept our amazement on instead of off.

The question that should interest is why were we able to achieve the amazing stuff. That question I will answer in a follow-up post on request. Maybe.

7 thoughts on “Amazing Internet

  1. Ajit R. Jadhav Wednesday September 1, 2021 / 12:55 pm

    Atanu,

    That’s a good visualization of the other side of the “NO” principle previously mentioned by you.

    Best,
    –Ajit

    Like

  2. Prabhudesai Thursday September 2, 2021 / 6:54 pm

    Amazon should be pronounced as “Amaze On” and on.

    Like

  3. baransam1 Sunday September 5, 2021 / 11:53 pm

    An unrelated comment. I wrote it up as an email to send you privately. But later changed mind to declare it to the world as well.

    ====================================
    Date: 5th September 2021
    Hi Atanu,

    At the risk of being corny, let me wish you on Teacher’s day and acknowledge your ‘teaching’ contribution to my comprehension of the world. I guess you might have liked Guru Purnima as the occasion rather than Radhakrishnan’s birthday, but a CBSE 1-12 education has its side effects.
    If teaching means stimulating curiosity, you have done it for me.
    If teaching means upsetting long-held assumptions and ‘opening up the mind’, you have done it for me.
    If teaching means egging the students to ask questions and answer them patiently, you have done it for me through your AMA sessions.

    So, thanks for enhancing the quality of my cognitive life and for everything else.

    Your ‘student’,

    Sambaran

    Like

    • Atanu Dey Thursday September 9, 2021 / 2:06 am

      Hi Sambaran:

      I am delighted to know that you learned useful things from my blog. Thanks much for letting me know.

      Best wishes,
      Atanu

      Like

  4. rcwpacct2019 Saturday September 11, 2021 / 12:43 pm

    This is such an interesting anecdote. I too sometimes sit back and just marvel at the efficiency internet has brought. I think internet may have had bigger impact on society than printing press had when it first came into being.
    But there’s a downside too. Crazy proliferation of fake news. I think this insane lockdown effect to Covid is due to the ruthless efficiency of internet in disseminating information.

    Like

    • Prabhudesai Wednesday September 22, 2021 / 2:04 am

      Crazy proliferation of fake news.

      News has always been mostly false. We are not the first to say this. Mark Twain who did not live long enough to see things like internet or television said that “truth travels only few steps when falsehood travels thousands of miles” or something on those line. You get the point.

      Prior to this, news was often controlled by government and was mostly, nearly 100% of the times completely false. Biggest con Indian government pulled on Indian people for example is to convince them that Bhopal Gas Tragedy was caused by Union Carbide Corporation of USA.

      In modern times different news sources compete with each other, we often see news we don’t agree with and call them false news but since there is so much diversity of news, we see more disagreeable news than news we like.

      Overall news is much much better today. We have much better grasp of reality and for any opinion we hear as news it is so much easier to see opposing viewpoints. It makes people more free to chose what they want to believe and trust.

      I do not think there is a downside to this.

      Like

      • Atanu Dey Thursday September 23, 2021 / 2:25 am

        The problem is much deeper than the much bemoaned “fake news.” The problem is news. Listening to, reading or watching news is a guaranteed waste of time, and it leaves you not uninformed but misinformed. To understand what’s going on in the world, avoid any sort of news altogether. Read a book or a long-form article about what happened a few months or a few years ago. You’ll not have to wade through hundreds of daily news reports only to conclude that the journalists and talking heads are peddling bullshit.

        The brilliant historian Will Durant wrote that “history is mostly guessing and the rest is prejudice.” Journalism and the news business is mostly bullshit and the rest is prejudice. All news is fake news.

        Like

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