Only 8 years and what a change!


I am on my first day of my Q4 distribution trip to Latin America, on my way to Brazil.. A itusually happens, I spend many hours in the air on these trips, and around the same amounts waiting in airports in between.

Whoever follows me at Twitter or Facebook has surely seen my last tweet "Long waitings in airports make you think... and sleep.... and eat." - well, all of the three. Definitely. Not necessarilly in the same order.

The tweet above actually made me wander and get to the idea behind this article. Well, this year I am closing 8 years doing these trips (and others, since in the past I used to travel to Asia with the same frequency), and when I look back to the world I was in when I just began I can only say: "Gosh!!! Only 8 years and what a change!"

So what has changed so much? The countries are the same countries, the planes are the same planes, the company I sell for still look at Latin America as an exoteric place which is not necessarily a place they should invest money in,.... well, I am not talking about this. I am mostly talking about technology and the way it changed the life I have in these trips throughout the years.

Let's begin by the Internet: it was quite new in the early 2000's. Broadband was still a privilege of the USA, you almost could not find it in Israel or in Latin America. I would travel with a phone cable in my computer bag to try to connect to a modem and be able to read my email. Couldn't do much more than that. Some times I would use some kind of weird technology like PC-Phone in order to say something to my family and here groans and moans from the otherside. Probably the same they heard from me. Around 2003/2004 broadband began to arrive to Israel at the stunning speeds of 512Kbps!

In the gadget arean, we were in the days of Palm, PocketPC 2002, the second generation of IPAQs, the one that came immediately after HP bought Compaq and begun to break their perfect design. There was the Dell Axim, some other devices, and looking back from today's point of view most of them did pretty much of nothing. In 2005 I bought a wifi travel router which I could plug to the network of any hotel offering a broadband connection, if I happened to find one outside the US.

In communications, our great social network was AOL and MSN Messenger. Somehow they brought an initial possibility to connect and chat to the world, far just as close, independent of physical distance. We were talking. Then in 2003 comes a visionary company called Skype and gave us the ability to talk using our voices also in modem connections of 256Kbps. The world was beginning to change. Fast broadband networks now had another reason to develop anywhere. People wanted to communicate.

Let's fast-forward to 2010, November 18th,at 15:25 at the Houston clock. I am sitting here writing in my Netbook what I am going to send directly to my blog via the free Wifi network of the Continental Presidents Club lounge in Houston. This is happening after I turned-on my Android phone, it synchronized directly with the clock of the Houston network, Google Lattitude positioned me in the map, I checked in Foursquare where I was and did some comments in Facebook and Twitter. In between, I used the Wifi network and the service of Free Telecom (which is an official VOIP over cellular data operator in Israel) to call my daughter in her cellular phone, my wife and son at home, and my parents at their home, for the price of local landline calls. And now, after sleeping some two hours, I am back at the computer writing this article. During my writing, Skype reminds me it is still a trend by popping up little windows that tell me who of my friends are online.

Before my trip, I have used Facebook to set a friends meeting in Brazil for this weekend with old friends that some of them I have not seen for 30 years. I gained contact back with them as a result of one picture that another friend published in Facebook and I commented on it. They read my comment and answered to me. Contact was made, and I found out that they are friends with other friends that I see almost every time I travel for the last year or so, since I gained contact back with them in similar circumstances.

And here comes the title of this article: only 8 years, and so much has changed. Technology has changed so much, and my life in these trips together with it.

Let me tell you: I am a family person. I also like to communicate. During these trips, my worst nightmare was the fact that I was alone. I missed my wife, I missed my friends, I missed even office!

Today, when I go out for my business trips, I don't count the minutes in the phone anymore; I speak as much as I want, with whoever I want, since I am talking through WIFI and VOIP and paying less than I would pay for a regular cellular call at home. I can communicate with all my friends, may they be from Israel, Brazil or the world, may they be at home or travelling like me.

VOIP communication and social networks gave the right reasons for broadband to spread around and for making Wifi a commodity that can be found everywhere. Devices today have 1GHz processors, media co-processors, and can do things that desktops couldn't do back in 2002. Maybe we are distantiating from close people in the physical way, but we are getting in touch with people that are far much easier than we used to do. An in a world where people become universal citizens that today are here and tomorrow may be everywhere, this is really an advantage.

All the above brings me to imagine what is waiting for us beyond these days. I try, and I can get to a real conclusion. I am sure that it will not be only improvement of what we already have. Something disruptive must be on its way.

So what will kt be? I can't wait to hear, and I am very curious to find out. I just hope that, having got this year to the 50 mark, it will still be during my days around here.