Stagnation is in the Eye of the Beholder
Not that Space isn’t special. The first books I can still remember reading were astronomy books that I had read numerous times and memorized details out of. Seeing the world from space reportedly changed the views of the men who did it:
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14
The Apollo program did not, however, send marauding politicians into orbit. In fact, the space program was eventually weaponized, as if that weren’t the point to start with.
Contrary to that GM commercial, the reason others haven’t gone to the Moon isn’t a unique American work ethic. (Also, they were wrong; China went last year.) It’s that the Moon isn’t sufficiently interesting. The US hasn’t bothered in a number of decades, and within two decades, the last of those twelve who did visit it will die with his feet firmly planted on Earth.
Twitter is a global platform that 271 million people use on at least a monthly basis to communicate with one another. Most of these people don’t do this at a computer. They use a portable device they carry around in their pocket and can use anywhere they might go. Anyone using Twitter can communicate with anyone else using Twitter, and 77% of Twitter accounts are outside the US.
And it is free.
With that in mind, see this image that was widely shared last month:
Not to trivialize the Moon landing, but accomplishments don’t have to only be measured in terms of physical distance traveled. Stupid, silly innovations here at ground level count too. The distribution of those innovations through the population count. If Twitter is the best available example of stagnation, maybe we haven’t done so bad.
Addendum: Vikram’s Twitter feed