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June 8, 2010 / Brent Sears

What Was the World Like in 1868?

In about two weeks I fly to Australia.  I will be taking the train to NYC and flying out of JFK > Los Angeles > Sydney > Brisbane.  Can you believe that the trip will span two days?  It is going to be grueling, but I look forward to the endurance challenge.

But look how far the world has come.  In 1868, the year SUNY Cortland was founded, it probably would have taken me longer to get to Scranton, PA (1.5 hrs via automobile.)  Hummm…should I really be complaining: Brisbane for a tour of the Great Barrier Reef, or check out the super-cool coalmines of Scranton?

Interstates highways, automobiles, jet airlines (I know the meals aren’t really free anymore), the Internet, Barnes & Noble, skydiving, Specialized bikes, Uni-ball pens, e-books: none of these things existed in 1868.  There was no knowledge of them.  Look at the innovations in the list above.  They have changed the world, created jobs, and eliminated jobs that were no longer necessary.

We live in a time of great opportunity.  We have so much that was not available to our ancestors.  Do we really have anything to complain about?  The answer is YES!!!  There are still things that need to be updated, need to be changed, need to be rebuilt.  One is that the borders like the state border between New York and Pennsylvania is nothing to traverse.  Push outside your edges and go explore, experience, and see for yourself.  Traveling today is nothing like traveling in 1868; neither is education for that matter.  The system hasn’t figured that out yet.

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One Comment

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  1. Chris Crouch / Jun 9 2010 09:46

    Years ago Apple Computer created a video on the elements of their culture (among other things). They talked about the fact that innovation was out on the “edge” of things. All new discoveries occur on the edge! And then they made the statement: “If you never got out on the edge, all you can hope for in life was “better sameness” …and who wants that? Of course, the location of the edge is a relative concept. Given where you are starting from, it sounds as if you are headed to the edge of things geographically and otherwise. Good luck and have fun!

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