Sunday, 3 July 2011

The world is shrinking

This is a bit off topic, but it's been something I've been thinking about for a while now.

I've heard for years that the world is shrinking, without realising at first-hand just how true this is.

When the only ways of transporting people or messages were powered by horses or the wind, fifty miles was a long way. If a friend or family member emigrated, voluntarily or involuntarily, it'd be very likely you'd never know what became of them. And trading with foreign countries was an expensive, long-drawn-out and very risky business.

Now, the wonders of electronic communication mean the world really has shrunk. Even if you can't talk to someone face to face (which I still believe is by far the best way to build and maintain a relationship, personal or business), you can keep in touch with them online until you see them again.

Every week I talk to my parents in Wales from my home in Cumbria, and see them as well, all without paying a penny, thanks to Skype video calls. ("It's like science fiction" says my 72-year-old dad.)

I can have an e-mail conversation with a friend who's just gone out to Bangkok as easily as I could before he left the UK.

A fellow accountant in the US e-mailed to ask me what it's like to set up your own business in your spare time, and how to charge your clients when you do that. I e-mailed him back to tell him. Without e-mail and the web he'd never have even known I exist.

And it's as easy for us at FreeAgent to sell our online accounting software service to overseas customers as to UK-based customers.

There's a world out there. And it's extremely exciting.