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Happy Birthday, Internet

Belated good wishes to the Internet, which turned 20 on the 30th of April. This time next year it will have grown to full adulthood and will be given the keys to the world by us, its collective parents. In fact, it was given the keys to the world over a decade ago,while still in pre-puberty. The analogy can only be stretched so far!

Sometime around 1994, an excited computer programmer friend walked into my office and said, “I need your computer for half an hour. Go and take a walk in the park.” I obeyed. When I returned to my office, glad for the refreshing break, he told me to look at my screen. I casually sat down and watched as a few lines in red began to appear from the bottom up. Ten minutes later, I could hardly breathe for excitement. Line by line, a clearly discernible color image had formed on the lower half of my screen. The cave paintings of Lascaux, instantly recognizable, one of the places on my bucket list of things to see before I kicked it. Seventeen thousand year old images brought to my screen in half an hour by a technology I knew nothing about. I was hooked.

For the rest of the day, I sat in front of the monitor and looked at various images from the Lascaux caves, captivated as each image formed in twenty to thirty minutes. A year later, I remember, one of my colleagues phoned down to the same programmer and complained that the network was slow and his pages were taking more than a minute each to load. What does this say about us and our expectations that collectively drive the world? Time to reflect between now and next year this time, when we will symbolically hand over the keys to our future to this kid.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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