Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On the porch

Every now and then Tom sends me a map showing where the most recent few hundred visitors to Science Musings hail from (click to enlarge):

I'm always a little astonished. Here I am, lying on the couch with my laptop, wireless no less, open to the world. We know who some of these yellow circles are from thier comments: the visitors from Fiji and Japan, for instance. But who is that dot in Beijing? In Istanbul? In Lima? Lyra called the site a cyberporch. And I love that image. I imagine the globe hanging in space with a wraparound verandah, and all of us -- the yellow dots -- hanging out.

Blogging is a curious activity. For years I kept a journal. For twenty years I shared my thoughts in a weekly Boston Globe column, always a little abashed that someone would pay me to write -- and that people would read my offerings. Now in gentile retirement I sit here on the cyberporch and exchange ideas with yellow dots from Anchorage to Auckland. We share a language. We share bandwidth. To a large extent we share hopes and dreams about the kind of world we want to live in. We collectively hardly make a blip on the radar screen of world affairs, but if this little community is multiplied a million times over in other web-based communities, then perhaps we contribute one small thread to the ties that will bind the planet together in a less fractious future.