It’s a small world … on my iPhone

Photo by Tania Conte.

Getting away used to be so easy. But in a world where even forest monks carry smartphones tucked inside their saffron-colored robes, it can be hard to get off the grid. My latest column looks at this phenomenon from the perspective of a recent trip to Thailand.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — I’ve been checking my emails here only once a day, like it’s the 1990s all over again.

For many Americans, a great part of traveling in Asia is not receiving any messages during the day because almost everyone you know — halfway around the world, back home — is asleep. I wake up, read the overnight messages and forget about email. If only this could last.

Even that disconnected luxury goes only so far when almost half the world’s population accesses the internet , and even forest monks at a remote mountain temple carry smartphones tucked into their saffron-colored robes. Along a narrow canal an hour outside of Bangkok, we passed a small wooden shack with open-air windows — and a 60-inch TV mounted inside the front door. Neighbors had sealed up their homes and installed air conditioners.

Everyone, it seems, hungers for the same cutting-edge technology, instant connectivity and modern convenience. That drive holds exciting promise for bringing us together, and perhaps a little danger for our demands on the planet as well. Read more…

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood: Mr. McFeely

Nice surprise to meet David Newell, aka Mr. McFeely, in the CMI today. He’s here for Steve Cuden’s StoryBeat podcast. In real life, of course, he looks totally different than on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sounds the same though. You can’t hear it here but he was giving me a, “Speedy delivery!”

Is it getting faster in here?

Kids have no idea! That’s the theme of my latest column. I spent some time thinking about how much work it used to take to make a video. Now Facebook (or Google, Videolicious, Snapchat, etc.) does all of the heavy lifting so we can focus on being creative. That already means that we see so much more content – and higher quality videos too. Hope you enjoy…

Just for fun, I recently created a video of my beach vacation, posted it to Facebook and shared it with the world.

The entire production process took about 30 seconds and I reached hundreds of my “friends” online.

Doing the same thing 20 years ago, when I was in journalism school, would have taken far longer, moving images from one analog tape to another with a large and expensive editing bay. Sharing my work with the world? Almost impossible.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this summer , it’s worth taking some time to reflect on how quickly our world keeps changing — and considering whether we’re capable of keeping up. Read more…