A couple of days ago over dinner, I was having one of those typical university conversations about whether the Internet had really changed the world. As was pointed out, “We’re still not buying all of our groceries over the web.” I replied with something about delivery of large perishable goods and how in fact the delivery of groceries works pretty well in places in New York. In any case, I said, the Internet has affected some people much more than others and at least for my part, it’s offered me a tremendous number of opportunities, etc. etc.
It’s all very well talking about stuff like that, but it was really brought home to me today. I’d spotted that Amazon Germany was selling the Futurama Season 2 DVDs for only 30 euros and had quickly ordered it. I don’t know any German but it wasn’t difficult ordering it, especially since Amazon had most of my details already. However, a couple of days after I’d ordered it, I started receiving emails from Amazon.de about the order. I had no idea what they were about and figured that it was some kind of promotional thing of the sort Amazon UK sends me occasionally.
After a while I got curious, so I ran the email through the Babel Fish Translation Service and discovered that I hadn’t put in my credit card details properly. Problem solved, and now the DVDs are on their way.
So, a few things. First, I was able to buy a product from another country at a significant saving over buying it here. Second, I was able to use a translation service that, while not perfect, allowed me to get the gist of the email they sent me. This is pretty damn impressive, and the only reason why it doesn’t seem impressive is being we humans have this wonderful capacity of making the extraordinary seem ordinary after only a few repetitions.