I drew this week’s cartoon on my iPad, in a plane, at 37,000 feet. I penciled it, inked and colored it all in the confines of an economy-class seat, which experienced air travelers know has now shrunk to the size of a Scooby-Doo lunch box.
We’re now accustomed to digital miracles. High-speed, jaw-dropping graphics on a cheap gaming platform? Been there. The video projector that sits in the palm of your hand? Old news. Casual 10-way videoconferencing? Thanks, Google. (Now what else have you got?) A massive personal catalog of music you can access from nearly anywhere you’re likely to go today? Apple is about to deliver it,and they’re playing catch-up to Google and Amazon.
A few years ago, The Onion created a front page supposedly from July 1969 that read “HOLY SH*T – MAN WALKS ON F*CKING MOON”. I’d like to buy that and hang it next to my drawing tablet, just to remind me that these walking-on-the-moon moments happen now pretty much every day.
No, not Apollo-level engineering triumphs or half-million-mile moon missions. But things that would blow not just our ancestors’ minds (flying at hundreds of miles an hour!) or our grandparents’ (a powerful computer you can carry in a bag!), but our own, just a few short years ago.
These are the days of miracles and wonder (and Paul Simon hadn’t seen the Web when he wrote those words 25 years ago) and every once in a while, it’s worth taking the time to look at the latest new development not just with acquisitive glee, but with a little awe.
By the way, here’s the cognitive surplus explained, in Clay Shirky’s TED talk: