This is a little story about standards, technology, civilisation, and the modern world. I know it is tempting to only talk about the various ways technology disappoints us, but sometimes it can be quite magical living in the future. A few week ago, I took a trip to a foreign country...
I waved a rectangle of black-and-white squares in the vicinity of an optical scanner. The tiny computer's eye caught a fleeting glimpse of the barcode, de-skewed, rotated, and deciphered it - then checked its contents against a database. After a few milliseconds of deep thought, it opened the gates for me.
I handed over my passport to the border guard. They verified the cryptographic signature embedded in a chip, nestled deep within the document. Seeing it was valid, they waved me through the border.
I jumped on a train which sped 160 km/h underneath the sea! Although there's no WiFi 45m under the seabed, the rest of the time my various devices happily slurped up the bits from the æther.