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All’s Fair in Love … and the Future? Probably Not.

September 11, 2009

“The future is already here: its just unevenly distributed.”
10 years ago, William Gibson, celebrated fiction author and futurist, said just that in an interview for NPR. If it was true then, in 1999, when the Web was still in its infancy and things like Google and YouTube didn’t exist, it most certainly still true today.

Though we have eliminated borders, in a sense, with the creation and widespread use of the Internet, the majority of people in the world are still without a Web connection, a perfect, if disheartening, example of the uneven and unfair distribution of the future (or technology as it may be…).

According to, only 24.7% of the world’s population has Internet access. Astounding, right? What’s not so astounding is how that spreads out over the global map. The statistics look like this:

Screen shot 2009-09-11 at 5.25.33 PM

The future is, indeed, here for the US and Canada, for Europe, and for many parts of Asia. The more accurate picture to paint is one of comparison: Compared to the US and Europe, Japan is living in the future. They are doing things with their iPhones that we’ve not even thought of. But when we compare the US and Europe to Africa and South America, we are far enough ahead, technologically speaking, that our mobile phones and computer interfaces look like the future to them.

Confused? Don’t be. Just go back and look at that first sentence. The future is already here for many of us, just not for all of us. Will we ever catch up? Will there be a time in the future when the world is collectively on the same technological level? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It is the future we’re talking about, after all.

If you’re the sort of person who needs evidence for support, take a look at this article from the BBC. “SA Pigeon Faster than Broadband.” Humorous, yes, for most of us to think that a pigeon could actually transport information faster than broadband. But that’s just what happened in the South Africa last week. Maybe we should be thankful for HighSpeedRoadRunner… it is faster than a pigeon.

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