This is the age of the train

When I was growing up in England, there was a series of commercials with the tagline “This is the Age of the Train”, often sung.  You could almost believe it, and forget that British trains were chronically late and slow.

The true age of the train was the 19th century, when railways boosted the Industrial Revolution, helped the Union to victory in the Civil War, and took over the California government for a while.  Many made fortunes, and it was clear that the train was a transformative technology.

Now, we are living in the age of the Internet, specifically the age of Google.  Many have made fortunes, and it is clear that the Internet is a transformative technology.  Though trains still give rise to some interesting mathematical problems and may have a small resurgence in California, their age has passed, and only the very young now dream of being engine drivers.

As the railways moved people, goods, and materials, so the Internet moves information.  As the Union Pacific no longer rules California with a fist of steam and steel, so shall Google, Yahoo and Microsoft drift into the minor ranks of mundane corporations.  And perhaps there will come a time when only the very young will think of being software engineers when they grow up.

Double bonus!  Two “Age of the Train” ads:

For pleasure

and business:

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