Saturday, February 28, 2009

Plus ça change ...

I'm thinking of a technology. A revolutionary, disruptive technology. This technology broke down the barrier of distance, putting people who would never have met in direct contact with each other.

Using this technology, someone in the far reaches of the country could do business with someone time zones away. The technology could be used to procure any kind of good for sale, from buttons to houses.

Not only is this technology responsible for the creation of industries and corporate empires, but for entire towns and cities. Access to this technology could make the difference between a settlement withering and dying or growing and thriving. It is fair to say that maps were literally redrawn around this technology. Ways of life were created and destroyed, species decimated.

The technology led to rampant speculation. Fortunes were made, lost, re-made and so forth on the strength of speculation in this technology.

Press agents and marketing wizards spoke breathlessly of the technology's transformative power. Lavish promises were made to the public. Some panned out. Many didn't.

I speak, of course, of the steam locomotive.


earl said...

Would it surprise you to learn that I thought "railroad" before I finished the 2d paragraph?

earl said...

And you didn't mention that before this technology came along, time zones didn't even exist.

David Hull said...

1) Not really
2) Excellent point!