OffBeat

I’m thankful. What about you?

Image Credit: Ed Schipul

It’s always a good time to think about what you’re thankful for, rather than what you are bitter about, or anxious to acquire, or angry at.

Today, of course, is especially appropriate.

thank you

I’m thankful for computers the size of a deck of cards that fit in my pockets. I’m thankful for music that follows me wherever I go: in my pocket, on my computer, or over the web. I’m thankful for tiny little wearable devices that remind me to get my body in motion when I’ve been sitting too long. And I’m thankful for book-sized slabs of glass that are windows on the entire world of digital content, something that in the ’70s and ’80s was only a figment of the imagination of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

I’m also thankful for the ability to say hi to friends in the Netherlands, Romania, Nigeria, Portugal, Brazil, and China every day, to be part of their lives and make their lives part of mine in such a stupidly simple way that this amazing feat actually seems just natural, even mundane. I’m thankful for instant video communication with people thousands of miles away. And I’m thankful that texts and IMs can enable me to stay focused on my work while still remaining in touch asynchronously.

perspective catI’m very thankful for a global search engine — several of them in fact — that helps me find any data I want, almost, in .36 seconds or less. I’m thankful that tens of thousands of people have built and maintain probably the biggest repository of human knowledge in history, all for free, freely available, and freely updateable. And I’m super-thankful that I don’t have to keep a set of heavy, massive books in my home so that I can find the answers to my son’s fifth-grade science quiz.

I’m super-grateful that there are people in the world who understand and are even extending today’s super-advanced digital brains, the massively complex million-server infrastructures of our largest companies and public services. I’m thankful that they’ve built a massively parallel, massively redundant storage and computing and routing marvel that just works seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly, like the wizard behind the curtain, performing minute miracles every minute while we just blithely call up a search result or check our friends’ status.

I’m unbelievably thankful for the tens of thousands of geeky gearheads who have donated their time and their brains and their interests to creating free software that the rest of us can just simply sit back and enjoy. The fruits of their open-source labor are buried deep in the latops we type on, the tablets we play with, and almost every phone and smart device we sprinkle all over our homes and businesses.

thankful

And yes, I’m thankful for people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea-was-Bradley Manning, who at considerable cost to life and security and comfort and freedom have shed light on some of the ways we might be less than thankful to see how some of this technology has been used.

What are you thankful for today?

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