Present communications and technology are amazing, I feel really enthusiastic at today’s and future possibilities. It’s incredible how many pieces are working together for almost simple things that we have completely absorbed and got used to, to a point that we cannot live without them, but we don’t realize what is happening behind the screen; and I can assure you: it’s amazing :D!!!
Let’s take for example, a simple WhatsApp message, just a small piece of text, an string for IT people, a sentence for the rest of mortals, just some letters (and perhaps symbols), one after another. That sentence can contain lots of emotions, information, hope, it could mean a lot for the one who writes it and also to the other party that receives and reads it.
You just open an app in your smartphone, just touching a piece of glass/plastic that senses the micro electrical pulses from your body (just from the tip of your finger!) and sends that information to some sort of processor and software that interprets your touches and sketches some letter on the screen (again, some electrical pulses, creating light, enabling pixels, drawing that smiley face). After you keep touching your screen for a while, you have your sentence, your piece of information, a rendering of your emotions, a representation of your speech, ready to be sent to the other person, anywhere in the world.
That’s the moment, you might read it again for confirming that it holds what you expect, and just one more touch, just some electricity captured by your device, and again, millions of small things starting to work. Your app (WhatsApp here) builds a small chunk of data containing your text, your information, and the information of the receiver (that girl / boy / woman / man / kid / friend / lover / family / mate / partner in the other end of the line) and sends it to the operative system of your phone. Again, your OS wraps your small text a couple more times, introducing information enabling the network to move your message between several devices, cables, connections, microwaves in order to deliver that sentence, that emotion, to the other party.
As smartphones are small computers, your message gets wrapped with some information that allows computers to talk to each other, using probably common protocols like HTTP, TCP, IP, Ethernet, etc etc etc. Your message keeps being wrapped/unwrapped and it’s sent to our great network (THE INTERNET!!), jumping from router to router (yes, you know… thingies that receive a chunk of electrical pulses, convert it to ones and zeros, interpret it, read basic information like the MAC addresses, put it on a queue, take it from the queue, process it, add some, remove some, put it again on another queue, convert it again to binary code, translate it to electricity (or maybe to light?), put it on the cable (or optical fibre), and send it), it keeps jumping and jumping around 15 times and then it gets to some server, or some antenna, that converts it to microwaves, hitting your mate’s phone, in the other side of the world, breaking through the OS, the protocol, the app, the screen, making that amazing, unexpected, even scary “beep” that draws the attention of your friend.
In that moment, the device in the pocket of your party vibrates, she/he grabs it, clicks the power button, slides her/his finger and BOOM, you just hit her/him straight in the middle of the head, just in the eyes, her/his retina interprets the light, produce some electrical pulses that would be pushed to the nerves, hitting the brain, and creating amazing chemical & electrical interactions that produce a torrent of emotions inside her/him, activating the thinking process in order to generate some reply (if you’re lucky enough 🙂 ) to your small chunk of data.
And you, here or there, maybe in London, maybe in New York, Paris, Bucharest, Kuala Lumpur or Cape Town, just clicking your screen, hitting send, and you hit the other person in Munich, Edinburgh, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Mexico or perhaps Sydney, without ever noticing that lots and lots of small parts and systems, created by humanity, working together so you can transfer your emotions from one side to another of the world, in just a small fraction of a second.
Technology is amazing. And that was just a bird’s-eye view. Are you amazed?