One of the things I always hear technology credited for is how easy it makes it to spread information. Specifically, how the internet has promoted globalization. Since the advent of the internet, the world has reached a level of globalization that has never been seen before. While, yes, it is true, the world has been connected before the internet. Technology brings connection and change – and this is true for over 2000 years.
One of the earliest – and greatest – examples of globalization is the Silk Road. The first rendition of the Silk Road connected the Roman Empire with the Han Dynasty in China. Along the Silk Road flowed silk, tea, salt, porcelain, and spices from China and bronze, wine, gold from Rome – with multiple other goods at stops all along the Silk Road. The Silk Road connected the world at an unprecedented level – and that was nearly 2000 years ago. Sure, it took months to traverse it, but it was a start.
More recently, as in 500 years ago, globalization spread from one hemisphere to another; Europe, Africa, and the Americas were connected with Columbus’s acknowledgement of the new world. From here, just like the Silk Road, goods such as sugar, cotton, spices, corn, and tobacco spread from the Americas, guns, alcohol, and manufactured goods from Europe, and slaves from Africa. Goods and ideas spread from one region of the world to another. Specifically, ideas. Ideas are fundamental to globalization. The spread of ideas allows for the superior parts of each culture to mesh and form something that is even more superior.
Future technologies only increased the spread in which ideas can spread. As opposed to the weeks it took for information and ideas to travels across the Atlantic in the 1500s, the invention of the telegraph reduced that time to hours in the early 1900s, now, with the internet, that time is reduced to seconds. Information and ideas can spread from one part of the world at a record pace – but the idea isn’t anything new.
So yes, my column is still called Technically Speaking, even though I did spend this week giving a brief overview of history. But technology is a vital part of history – which leads to globalization. It isn’t just the internet (despite what my recent article on k-pop states) that creates globalization; its existed for thousands of years. Don’t focus just on the internet, focus on technology in general.