Thursday, April 22, 2010

The wonders of technology - a response to the Eyjafjallajökull smoke screen

Around 1906 `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "...all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible..."
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá
(Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978), pp. 31-32))

And in 1936, Shoghi Effendi discussed this theme in reference to "A mechanism of world inter-communication..."
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 203)

Screenshot taken this morning >>
on the website: which shows real-time flights in Europe. The yellow dots are planes flying or landing.
The pink R + E indicate, Reykavik + Eyjafjallajökull

Last Friday morning, messages via my Facebook friends indicated that planes were not running and then I saw the pictures of the cloud and smoke!
Now a few U.K. papers are wondering if the 6 day no-flight ban was over-cautious, but I think, thanks to the wonders of technology a disaster was avoided. Sure people had to stay longer or find trains or buses, or be creative or flexible. It was clear from some of the messages I read, that some travellers had never slept in an airport before. Welcome to my world!
And others complained of having to make train changes, which meant carrying their luggage themselves. Welcome to my world again.
Others complained that information in their non-English speaking country was not in English and I smiled, they could send messages to facebook but didn't know how to use babblefish or communicate by adlibing. We English-speakers are the laziest people :)
Then I thought of these facebook messages that were coming in and how people were using this technology to share their stories. A lot of it seemed to be about uncertainty and frustration and I thought, hang on, a catastrophe has been averted.

Yes, I wasn't travelling and my experiences have taught me to travel light, but still I found it kinda of nice to have a sky free of planes for a few days. To be looking at the sky more often for signs of volcanic ash and glad that the red sunsets were a reminder of the wonder of nature, rather than pollution.

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