I am writing this on a bus with free wi-fi that will (unless something unexpected happens) take me to Heathrow Airport. That I could pop across the Atlantic for a conference in Oxford for a few days is itself a marvel of technology, but one that has been around for a while now (and was more affordable in recent memory). But other technological developments have changed what the experience of being at a conference here was like, just compared to the last one in 2009.
On Monday, just after one of the presentations, I received a message on Facebook from a scholar who saw my blog post about that presentation and asked me to pass on her contact information to the presenter to communicate about the paper. Scholarly interaction on a global scale at lightning speed!
There are so many ways technology has transformed and impacted our scholarly work on the Mandaeans, which were seen/experienced or mentioned during the course of the conference. From the digital images we make of manuscripts to the e-mails by which we collaborate around the globe to the web sites where we share the fruit of our research, scholarship is being done differently, and more effectively and more quickly, than would have been possible a decade ago.
It wa 4:45 am local time when I wrote this, and it was already quite light out – I had forgotten what British summers are like! But the device I am writing this blog post on allows me to work on the go and, when necessary, in the dark. And so the time of day scarcely matters. Nor does the distance between where I am writing and where you happen to be reading, wherever that may be. But this device even lets me take a photo of the sunrise and include it in my blog post!
How often do you find yourself stopping and noticing consciously just how much technology has changed the ways that we do things in recent years?