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The disconnect February 22, 2011

Posted by Ian in Miscellaneous.

I’ve been watching quite a few documentaries recently and it strikes me that a lot of things my generation take for granted as well entrenched modern ideas have not been that way very long at all.  Consider the following very short list of examples:

  1. Less than 200 years ago washing hands and equipment before surgery was a laughable concept
  2. Less than 100 years ago a large empire collapsed (the Ottomans)
  3. Less than 60 years ago there were no satellites in space
  4. Less than 60 years ago a person was hung for murder in New Zealand
  5. Less than 50 years ago there had never been a successful heart transplant
  6. Less than 50 years ago New Zealand used pounds and shilling

I don’t know about other people but I feel very disconnected from those events despite them being very recent history.  I suspect this disconnect is a function of the pace of technological change but regardless I find it quite fascinating.


1. Damian - February 24, 2011

From around 100,000 years ago until only the last 100 years or so our life expectancy hovered around 30-40 years. Now it’s about 80ish here in NZ.

I find it hard to comprehend that I’ve lived longer than most of my human ancestors. They must have had pretty shitty lives.

(Good to see you back and blogging fella!)

2. Ian - February 25, 2011

Yep that’s definitely another good one! We take long life for granted these days yet its a mere blink of time back to when it short lives were the norm.

Some others I missed was that less than 25 years ago there was no internet or world wide web, and less than 30 years ago there were no cell phones available to buy.

3. Damian - February 25, 2011

I was chatting to my sister yesterday (she’s down in Chch) about some of the miscommunications that have occurred during this disaster, i.e. 15 people found/not-found, give blood/don’t give blood, etc.

These days we’ve got amazing abilities to share information and corroborate facts but there’s still an amount of error that creeps in. We were imagining just how much more corrupted information must have been throughout history and I was thinking just how easy it would be to have a rumour become ‘history’. How much of what people accept as historically accurate has been manufactured from misinformation/superstition/mistranslation/patriotism/dogma with no way of testing for accuracy now?

4. Ian - February 25, 2011

I guess no technology can overcome the human tendency to believe figures of apparent authority when it comes to matters of fact, particularly when an authority builds itself up on supposed exclusive access to such facts…

5. Damian - February 25, 2011

Oh yes, I see you’re thinking exactly what I was thinking. 🙂

6. Ian - February 25, 2011

Journalism right? 😉

7. Damian - February 25, 2011

Oh. Yes. Absolutely. *coughreligioncough*

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