Ed Driscoll

These Are The Good Old Days

Well, in many respects, at least. (And allow me to apologize in advance for any Carly Simon flashbacks the above title causes.) Glenn Reynolds links to this post on Slashdot:

Rewind your brain 15 years and imagine what you’d think if I told you:
Your computer will be roughly 1,000 faster than what you’re using today. You will probably have more than 4,000 times the memory, and a fast hard drive that stores over 100,000 times as much as that floppy you’re using. You can buy these supercomputers for less than $500 at Wal-Mart.

That computer will be hooked into a self-directed network that was designed by the Department of Defense and various universities – along with nearly 400,000,000 other machines. Your connection to this network will be 10,000 times faster than the 300 baud modem you’re using. In fact, it will be fast enough to download high-quality sound and video files in better than realtime.

There will be a good chance that your computer’s operating system will have been written by a global team of volunteers, some of them paid by their employers to implement specific parts. Free copies of this system will be available for download over the hyperfast network. You will have free access to the tools required to make your own changes, should you want to.

You will use this mind-bendingly powerful system to view corporate sponsored, community driven messages boards where people will bitch about having to drive cars that are almost unimaginably luxurious compared to what you have today.

Remember: in some fields, the singularity has already happened.

Meanwhile, Orrin Judd links to a recent essay by Michael Barone, titled “The ‘good news’ we are missing“:

Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” was as inspiring an example of people power as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Libya has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction. Egypt, by far the largest Arab nation, had its first contested election this month, and, as the Washington Post’s David Ignatius writes from Cairo, “the power of the reform movement in the Arab world today … is potent because it’s coming from the Arab societies themselves and not just from democracy enthusiasts in Washington.”

Which is evidence that Mr. Bush was right: Muslims and Arabs, like people everywhere, want liberty and self-rule. Afghanistan has just voted, and Iraq is about to vote a second time this year. Violence continues, but the more important story is that democracy and freedom are advancing. […]

Polls show that most Americans think the economy is in dreadful shape, even though almost all the numbers are good: Inflation and unemployment are low, and growth is robust despite the exogenous shocks of Sept. 11 and Katrina. After a generation of almost constant low-inflation economic growth, perhaps we Americans are only satisfied when we have bubble growth, as in the late 1990s, and are unimpressed when the American economy proves once again to be amazingly resilient.

This is all the more astonishing when you consider that we are going through a time of increased competition and change, as China and India, with 37 percent of the world’s population, are transforming their economies from third world to first world. Such a large proportion of mankind moving rapidly upward has never happened before and will never happen again.

Couple this with the facts that Japan seems to be growing again, after 15 years of deflation, that East Asia and Eastern Europe continue to grow robustly, and that major Latin countries like Mexico and Brazil are growing as well, and the economic picture around the world looks pretty good, despite nongrowth in Western Europe and continued poverty in Africa.

Try telling the workaday press that.