This week we are in Paris. We took the Chunnel down from Cambridge, which was a new adventure and it was seamless. In fact, traveling around Europe (with certain passports) is so easy again. It makes you wonder why air travel has become such a hassle, especially in the US, but as you may have seen, it happens in the UK too.
But first, the answer to last week's quiz: Boeing
The question was what Seattle-based company has most connected the world?
Here is my take on it:
Amazon.com sells a lot of books (and other stuff), which is information, not necessarily connection.
Starbucks was founded on the age-old European tradition of sharing ideas in a 'third space' between home and work. Unfortunately, you don't see much connection going on while waiting for 'Tall' (and by tall they mean small) cappuccinos to go. Comfy chairs are missing or under-used in many Starbucks.
Microsoft rode the desktop metaphor hard, but it is proving hard to get off that horse.
Boeing is my preferred answer because, in many cases, 'being there is everything.' For instance, you can read books about Paris, talk to folks about Paris and even buy an interactive game based in Paris, but nothing compares to 'being' in Paris.
When we think of connectivity, we normally think about information and communication technologies, but they are only part of the big picture. Human connectivity has historically--and still is to a great extent--been based on trade, travel and immigration, i.e, moving around the planet.
New Zealand historian Jamie Belich reminds us that, at least in New Zealand's case, the wide-bodied jet (i.e., Boeing 747s) has had a much greater impact on our small island nation than all the affordances of the Internet. Being back in Paris reminds me how much I learned from a year studying in France and Austria during college. Cultural travel and understanding is the thing that has brought humans together for centuries.
If the jet airplane is a connective device, then the big dis-connect is airport security, as recently illustrated by the Agency's former Chief Executive in the Wall Street Journal, who tells us 'why airport security is broken, and how to fix it.'
Enjoy your week and feel free to move around the planet. Facebook will still be with you, so there is no downside. Get out there!