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Silver Surfer Articles
30. The World is my Oyster

There has been a temptation as we have an archive of these Silver Surfer articles here on Rochford Life, simply not to write any more, but having a break from other things in the damp Spring of 2012, I found myself browsing in Internet areas I hadn’t been before, and concluded it was worth a comment here on these pages.

I have often commented in these articles that I think there is a danger of taking for granted the wonderful world that we live in. This may be especially true for the younger generation for whom everything is ‘normal, but for us in this older generation who have lived through incredible changes, surely we should be those who are acutely aware of these things.
I have had ‘Google Earth’ on my computer for a long time but have only recently got to using it more. It’s an easy program to download if you haven’t got it yet and amazingly it is free. If you haven’t ever used it, you start with a picture of the earth as a globe and you can zoom in on whatever you make to be the centre of the picture. So you start with, in this case, Britain. I wanted to see a part of the country where I used to live and so zoomed in and zoomed in until below me I had the streets of the place I was looking for.

Pause for a moment. Remember when you were a kid. Did you ever imagine we would have this technology in our living room - for free? Now here’s where it gets even better. As you zoom in even closer and get to ground level it changes to the photographic mode and there was the street where I used to live. It gives you the ability to move up and down the road, turn round, face buildings and so on. When I lived there as a child it was an unmade road with potholes where we floated boats much of the year. Now it is made up and the area round about developed in ways that, back then, we would never have imagined.

So I tried a previous home I had had in a different part of the country. Yet again, I was able to go down the country roads and view each of the houses to check where I had lived. Amazing.  So then I tried a third place where we had lived (my parents were often on the move!) This time the area had changed even more dramatically since my childhood, so (now with my wife leaning over my shoulder taking an interest in my past!) we browsed around the area and travelled along several miles of road where I used to cycle as a teenager.

I suppose we trawled the country for about three quarters of an hour. Here was the strange thing: when I turned off the program and went to make a cup of tea, psychologically I felt like I had just come back from a long journey! My body wasn’t as tired but my mind was still full of the places we had ‘driven through’. Very interesting!

The second slightly mind boggling experience on the Internet (for our generation at least) was a visit to the National Geographic’s web page (you can Google it). I like photos, especially photos of other places in the world and National Geographic are brilliant at that. There are some seriously awesome photos of the world around these days that scream at you, “This is an incredible world!” This time I browsed (free!) on their web site and thought, “This is just amazing!”

My kids all tend to take this sort of stuff for granted; they’ve grown up with it and so it is perfectly normal to them, but I still manage to retain some of the wonder of it and I grieve at the thought that one of these days I might lose that sense of wonder. Having said my kids take this all for granted, they are almost being left behind by their children, our grandchildren. Each of our three grown up kids have iPhones and iPads  and each allow their children to use them for Internet access. They span from nearly three up to nearly six and we have watched all of them competently using these relatively new forms of technology. Probably within a few years every secondary school pupil will have their own iPad for school use - and I marvel again.

The expectations of this younger generation is high. One of them in a conversation the other day was bemoaning the fact that the old library in Southend did not have WiFi access and so they had to go down to a local coffee shop to get connected on their laptop to do some work!  You’ll have it wherever you are one of these days.

I think I commented on an earlier article how I started collecting Old Masters - over the Internet by travelling around the Art galleries of the world. It’s a great world where you don’t have to leave your desk to enjoy all these things. You want to read old books online? Easy! I’m going to predict that it won’t be very long before you’ll be able to get access to ANY book published - on line for £1 for a limited period of time, maybe even free. After all they are free in a library, so why not on line. The technology is there, so why not?

So here we are living in an era of blossoming technology that is rapidly becoming available to all - even in times of recession, double-dip or otherwise. Learning is the name of the game and all it needs is a way of thinking that says, “I can do that!”  If my grandchildren can, why can’t you? Happy browsing.    


“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.”  
   ~Mitch Kapor, variation of a quote by Jerome Weisner (Getting an education from MIT is like taking a drink from a fire hose.)

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.  
~Bill Gates

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.  ~Author Unknown

A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.  ~Author Unknown

The greatest thing about the internet is that you can quote something and just totally make up the source.  ~Benjamin Franklin (!!!!! There is a warning implied in that one!!)