I got a text this morning from my girlfriend. Her bike had broken as she rode to work and she was hoping I would be able to pick her up that afternoon. I could but that’s not the point of this anticdote.
As she explained in her text the problem with her bike was that “the pin thing going through the front wheel has come out and there’s no nut on the other side to screw it into”. With this description and the make of her bike I was confident that I would be able to “google it up” (as my Grandma adorably like to say) and find a replacement. I was right. Thanks to said googling I quickly found out the ‘pin thing’ was called a skewer, and then I was able to find a shop nearby where I could buy the part. By the time I met her that afternoon to pick her up I had gone to the store, purchased a skewer nut, and was able to fix the bike.
The reason I tell you all this is because IT’S AMAZING! Not what a wonderful boyfriend I am but the fact that our problem could so easily be solved in minutes by me simply punching my fingers over a keyboard. All too often I take the tech advanced world we live in for granted, and I really shouldn’t; it’s phenomenal. For example, I found myself recently yelling at my phone because the screen rotated the wrong way while I was using the navigation app. I literally yelled “you piece of shit” to a machine that is able to connect with satellites hundreds of meters above me and then give me step by step verbal instructions to direct me to where I needed to go. Ignoring the fact that I was pointlessly yelling at a machine, the one thing that is clear is that a device that is able to do all that is far from a piece of shit.
Anyway, the point is the ease with which I was able to learn the name for an obscure bike part by typing in ‘rod that goes through the hub of a bike’, then the ease in which I was able to find a store that sold that part, as well as gain directions to said store kind of blew me away today as the modern age miracle that it is.
Another thing that blew me away was a response by Neil Gaiman to a fourteen year old writer who was looking for advice on things he can do now in order to achieve his dream. I won’t go through it all for you but you can see the majesty of his answer by clicking this link. I’ve always thought that Gaiman is a wonderful thinker and writer, and clearly this holds true even when answering fan mail…am I gushing? I’m gushing aren’t I?
Another heroic thing that came my way via the internet is the news that a woman in Russia has shared more than 48 million journal articles to a website called Sci-Hub, which this article (where you’ll find more information and the link to the site) describes as ‘The pirate bay of the science world’, and who, despite court injunction and a lawsuit, refuses to take them down. What a boss. I am strongly in favour of research papers and journal articles being free and accessible to everyone. Surely it’s in this way that our global community advances. Where anyone willing, capable, and with an internet connection can educate themselves and further contribute to our global knowledge. That’s kind of one of the best things about the internet.
Which brings me back to the modern world being amazing.
Didn’t that bookend nicely?