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When John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first ever nonstop flight across the Atlantic, they not only made history but gave rise to the aviation industry as we know it today. With their 1919 flight proving that power of mechanical flight could connect cultures, the world as we know it suddenly became smaller. Indeed, today, Statista’s data shows that commercial aviation as an industry generates more than $754 billion annually. However, in more recent times, mechanical power has been usurped by digital power in the race to shrink the globe. With the Internet approaching its 30th birthday, the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee is has proven itself as the best way to break down borders between nations.
In 2017, two years before the Internet celebrates its 30th, cryptocurrencies proved cyberspace is a universe without barriers. By offering a universal payment system that doesn’t rely on human intervention, users of bitcoin and its peers can make cross-border payments using a single currency. With countries such as Japan making bitcoin legal tender, the opportunities are there for a global currency. Although government regulation isn’t necessary for cryptocurrencies to survive or thrive, it would help business owners become more accepting of what’s essentially a new technology. While the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies is evolving, it’s the tip of a much larger iceberg of connectivity. Gaming and entertainment have become much more universal over the last two decades.
Netflix, as an example, now gives viewers the option to watch shows produced in foreign countries. Similarly, the Steam Network has removed the hardware element from the leading video games. Although distributors such as Activision and Capcom have long endeavored to make their games available in all territories, the process is costly. By making content available for download via “steampowered,” players can get easy and, importantly, affordable access to thousands of games wherever they are. The same is true of third-party lottery sites. Like Steam, international lottery games are collated and available to players in multiple countries. On Lotto.net, players in the UK can follow in the footsteps of Richard Wahl and win a $533 million+ Mega Millions jackpot, while US players can flow in the other direction and take part in the EuroMillions draw.
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This interplay has also spread into the retail sector. Amazon offers shipping to 13+ countries as far flung as the UK, US, Norway and India. The largest marketplace in the world, eBay, also has an international distribution network. As long as the seller is willing, the site can facilitate transactions between someone in Ireland and someone in China in seconds. This, as much as anything, is a prime example of how the Internet has brought the world closer together. As the world wide web inches closer towards three decades of operation, the evidence would suggest it’s done more to connect the world than air travel ever could. Although the physical dimension is lacking, the access to good, services and more is now better than ever and its all thanks to the Internet.
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