The future, so far.

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When I was in my teens, around the turn of the 1990s, my dad went to work in the Gulf. Staying in touch was a fairly simple decision. You could have instant, expensive communication (phone calls cost the best part of a 1990-era pound a minute) or cheap, slow communication (write a letter). What this generally meant was a steady flow of flimsy blue aerogrammes supplemented with the odd phone call. If the far-flung family outpost in the UAE wanted anything that wasn't locally available, pretty much the only option was to wait until a trip home (one or two a year at most) or get a visitor to bring it out.

Fast forward a mere twenty years - just over half my lifetime. I'm an expatriate myself, living in Switzerland. If I need a book or whatever that's not in the shops locally a quick Amazon order will make it turn up on the doorstep in a week or so. When I was in California a couple of weeks ago and wanted to talk to the wife back in Z├╝rich I could just pull my phone out of my pocket and set up a video chat in a few seconds. Instant communication is ubiquitous to the extent that people feel at a loss if their cellphone has coverage problems.

Amazing how the future snuck up on us when we weren't looking, eh?

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