Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the internet keeps us sane

Our experience of living abroad is unbelievably different from even a decade ago, and almost unrecognizable from my parents' stories of living in Germany for a couple years around 1970. Chile is more developed than ever, of course, but more important is the growth of Internet technologies that let us communicate even more easily. In 1970 you waited weeks and months for a quick, expensive satellite phone call, or for letters. Now, in ascending order of appearance and shininess...
  • Email: Duh. Part of why the U.S. Postal Service is dying. (The other part is stupid legislation that forced them to fund their pension obligations 7 years into the future, which isn't required of any other organization, because it's INSANE.)
  • Facebook: Social media blah blah blah wank wank wank.
  • Skype: Computer-to-computer voice/video connection, plus it will call normal phone numbers if you pay money. (Payment is only via Paypal; I tried, Paypal shut down my account for trying to use it from South America, and it's a multi-step process to re-activate it.)
  • Google Voice: Having shut down my cell phone number of the past decade, Google Voice gives me a phone number I can give to people that will transfer calls to whatever cell phone I get back home, as well as use the Internet to make free long-distance calls. In the meantime, people can leave messages for me and I can get them off the website, and I can trade text messages with Anna.
  • Gmail Voice Chat: Okay, voice chat between Gmail users, which isn't so exciting, until...
  • Gmail Voice Chat + Google Voice: Now, Gmail Voice Chat essentially becomes a telephone: I can call any U.S. phone number for free, and any calls to my Google Voice number will ring in my web browser. Yes, that's right, if I'm online, you can pick up your telephone and call me, while I'm in South America, for the cost of calling California.
Yes, we live in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I am selfishly glad that Science enables us to stay connected even though you went off to the bottom of the world. (Then again, if I weren't always reminded of how much I like you, would I miss you less? Hmmm...)