It’s a fitting greeting for the first post on a programmer’s blog. For those of you !programmers (non-programmers), I highly recommend writing your own “Hello World” program.
Beyond being true to my coder’s spirit, more now than ever can a person really say “hello” to the whole world. That is an amazing concept. It is also a concept that I think humanity is far from fully realizing and certainly much farther from understanding.
It is a small world after all
Not long ago, the world was a lot bigger. Traveling from one state to another just 200 years ago used to take days, even weeks. Nature controlled people, and Earth seemed infinite.
Today, it is common for people to travel half way around the world in less than a day’s time, and even travel all the way back a few days later. The last few generations of humans are some of the first to start to appreciate just how finite and limited our world is. Just the other day, as I sat on my deck watching the sunset, I heeded a notification from my phone and looked to the sky to spot the ISS passing overhead. It appeared from behind the mountains to the West and, within a few minutes, passed overhead and back behind the horizon to the North. At the same time, on my iPad, I had a live video feed from the ISS looking back down towards Earth. I even tweeted a quick “I see you” to the astronauts onboard, and let them know I’d catch them again when they came back around — in 90 minutes. I sat back down, wrote a couple of emails, and 90 minutes later watched again as some of my fellow human beings passed by 100mi overhead at 0.00002237c (15,000mph).
Connected at the speed of light
There are billions of us spread across the planet. Still, we manage to be constantly in communication with people thousands, even tens of thousands of miles away from us. I’m constantly mesmerized with the idea that I can pull out my phone, write a text message, have that message converted to radio waves (wifi), then to electrical impulses (ethernet), then to light waves (fiber optics), back to electrical impulses, into magnetic charges (hard drives), and then again through some combination of all of those. Finally, thousands of miles away, the last radio signal reaches another cell phone where its converted back into electrical signals which, after an incredibly complex series of transformations, cause a grid of liquid crystal cells to allow a very specific pattern of light through a glass screen. The person holding that phone immediately recognizes the pattern as letters and emoticons, and understands the message I sent them. That whole series of events usually happens in the course of seconds, and often the whole thing is repeated in the reverse direction just seconds later. If that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is.
Collectively, us humans are wading into the new world of a global civilization. When an oppressive government heavy handedly quells peaceful protests for a more democratic society, or when a whistleblower lifts the veil on a secret mass surveillance program, the world will hear about it. The problems in China or Africa are no longer distant events of no concern, they’re future problems heading our way. We cannot idly watch as Ebola spreads, or nuclear reactors leak radiation. Thier problems are our problems, and ours are theirs. That being the case, it only makes sense that our solutions should be their solutions too.
I could go on and on about how small the world is, and how things interconnect all of us humans on it, but that isn’t what I’m here to do. My goal, my blog’s mission statement if you will, is to step into that interconnected world, and to do so beneficially. I am dedicated to the pursuit of truth and knowledge. When and where possible I’ll do my best to help with the proliferation of both. I realize that, as a human, I am incredibly fallible in my thoughts and actions. As such, I invite constructive criticism on anything and everything I share, and I welcome your input in any way that promotes truth and knowledge. Please, show me where I’m wrong, but do so in a rational and philosophical manner. I realize I will likely be wrong about many things, so I am open to changing my mind. However, I expect the same mentality from anyone who wishes to join the conversation. With any luck, I will influence some of you out there, and you will influence me. If we want to truly move into a global civilization, we must know how to communicate, and we must learn and listen to one another.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening, and feel free to speak up whenever you want. I’m ready to return the favor.