Different Perspectives

It’s always amazing how different experiences result in widely different opinions. During a recent trip to the UK Nick Denton wrote (Olde England):

Back in Olde England, and realizing with a jolt how modern it is. And did you read about Estonia, where the government has streetsigns indicating the presence of wireless networks? The more antiquated the infrastructure, the easier it is to scrap, and start afresh. Yes, so London buildings still look scrawny, and the trains rattle, but a visitor might be surprised by…

  • the cathedral spaces of the Jubilee line subway
  • the Heathrow Express, whisking arrivals from the airport to the center of town in 15 minutes
  • mobile phones sold like candy
  • 3p per minute calls to Australia
  • free electronic bank transfers
  • online grocery shopping
  • local government offices that call you back
  • discount airlines offering flights to the Med for the price of a taxi

Meanwhile, in response to an article on the benefits of broadband, BBC News | Technology | Riding the internet’s fast lane, John Corbally wrote:

I have had broadband for four years now in California at just $40 per month. My whole family back home in the UK – mostly salaried professionals – are not even on dialup and if they do have access at work, can’t see the movies I send them or even get in trouble for using the e-mail. I bank, shop, plan social events, communicate with all friends, read news, watch sports and movies, study and work online and have done for years. It frustrates me that England is so far behind on what will soon be like the phone or TV for being in touch with the world.

Two very different perspectives resulting in quite opposite impressions. I have written previously about the improvements in daily life here in the UK during the last decade, so you won’t be surprised to learn that I agree with Nick Denton. Just the other day I was amazed to discover that my sister, who currently lives in Philadelphia, still cannot order groceries on-line. She used to, but the dot.com business (Webvan.com, I suspect) went under. In some respects at least, the US really does need to catch up.