Sunday, July 21, 2019

July 20, 1969 - A "Giant Leap" Indeed

Fifty years ago, three human beings traveled from a beach in southern Florida to the moon, a voyage of a quarter of a million miles. Before the end of the day on July 20, two men would walk the lunar surface.

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind," said Neil Armstrong as he planted his boot firmly on the dusty, unearthly ground.

"Beautiful... Magnificent desolation," said Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, a few moments later as he stepped down from the lunar module to become the second human being to walk on the moon.

Sixty miles above the lunar surface, orbiting the moon (about once every two hours) was Michael Collins, pilot of the Command Service Module. Though he didn't get to walk on the moon, he had the essential task of carefully attending to the larger traveling spacecraft and the rockets, which were the only way any of them would get back home.

Meanwhile, a six year old me was on earth, fascinated, and - along with hundreds of millions of other people all over the world - watching it all happen on television. I remember it vividly, hearing the beeps and the crackles of earth-to-moon and moon-to-earth audio, and seeing a fuzzy but unmistakable image of an astronaut going down those steps. My parents, my brother and I watched it in our living room, on our black-&-white TV (we didn't have a color TV yet). People from my generation or older remember, and can tell you where they were and what time of night or day it was when they saw the "giant leap" on TV.
But even as we watched history being made on July 20, 1969, we all participated in another historic moment on earth, and most of us were unaware of its radical nature and fundamental importance for the coming decades: we were watching the first ever global live television broadcast.

Over the past fifty years, the communications technology that accompanied the Apollo mission has developed in ways no one could have imagined, so that now billions of people interact on a global level every day. People today develop and share multimedia content, and are able to "broadcast," "live" (in real time), in a manner accessible to the whole world, right from the palm of their hand.📲

This "giant leap" - for better and for worse - has transformed the global village into a global interactive network, a "global commons" with immense possibilities for discourse and learning, but also immense spaces for getting lost, and for the post-modern tribes to gather, define themselves, and wage war against one another.

...coming soon, more on this topic! 💻🔊📲📡🌐