I started using the net in 1994. Which makes me -- for my age -- a fairly advanced user. But some things still astonish me.
My daughter Alex is going to Florence, Italy today for a month for study abroad. Which involves leaving Raleigh, flying to Boston, hanging out in Logan for 2 hours, flying to London, hanging out there for 4 hours, flying to Rome, taking a shuttle train to downtown Rome to Stazione Termini, and taking a train to Florence. All this with jet lag. Whew.
The school suggested leaving the Florence train station on the southeast side, and taking a bus. But I was curious: how far was the school (where she has to pick up the keys to the apartment where she'll be staying) from the train station? I've been in Florence -- I know how narrow are the streets, and how slow can be the buses. I thought there might be a map.
What I hadn't expected was that Google maps would have Italy on them. So I googled the train station address, and got directions.
Turns out the distance from the station to the school is .3 kilometers. Or slightly less than 2/10 of a mile. Walkable, that is.
The net isn't perfect, and there's a lot of pretty nasty stuff out there. But as I have pointed out before, what the net does is free us up. Alex could have gone to the effort of finding the right bus, made sure she had the 1.2 euros in exact change, and made certain she got off at the right stop. It would have taken a while. This way she will (probably wearily) drag her bags the 984 feet, and save some time. And probably some aggravation, to boot.