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I am writing these words on the last day of a millennium. I am fully aware that the calendar is but a convention. Yet, what a millennium it was! Without a doubt, the most amazing millennium of human history.

We have started the millennium living in stone castles and mud huts. Now we live in sky scrapers, fancy appartment buildings, or comfortable family houses. Not all of us, but many.

We started the millennium wearing armor and sack cloth, carrying swords or sweating with plowshares, riding horses, or just plain walking. We are ending it wearing 50% cotton and 50% synthetics - a material that did not even exist before, sitting by computers, driving cars, flying planes and space shuttles.

We have started the millennium not being able to deal with plagues, living to the ripe old age of thirty or forty. We are ending it with medicine being a huge business in some parts of the world, free right to all in many others.

Amazingly, the biggest changes have occured within the last century, or so: The invention of electric light bulb, telephone, motion pictures, and later television, have completely changed the way we live. Not to mention the Internet!

We, at least in the Western world, have started the millennium with Christianity as the only option for spiritual life, with the Jews being the only group of people in Europe having the guts to oppose, and taking endless persecution in return. We are ending it with Christianity split up into hundreds, perhaps even thousands of denominations, fighting each other, and with so many other options of spiritual paths, including the option of not having one.

We have started the millennium fighting petty local wars, to "graduate" to two major world wars, but we are ending the millennium communicating with people all over the world, regardless of their nationality, age, social class, color of skin or hair, sex, religion, language, sexual orientation, and what not.

We have started the millennium with most people, including many of those in power, unable to read and write, and with few books to read, as they all had to be painstakingly copied by the hands of skillful scribes. We are ending it with most people fully capable of reading and writing, of having so many books published we cannot even keep track of them, and with so many people able to publish their thoughts instantly on the worldwide web.

We have started the millennium in a feudal era of serfs and kings, while we are ending it with much of the world being free and living in democracy.

Oh, what a millennium it has been!

I'm sitting here, writing the first node for a while, thinking about the end of this century past. Long since losing the intoxication of many months of intense noding, creating for myself, for a few brief moments, a shared imagining of what this thing could be.

How lucky we are! How much we think we are going to be the lucky ones, the winners in the race we are running. And the devil take the hindmost!

I never was a true optimist, even when I was young--as I grow a bit older, I think less so. I think we hear too much about how this very thing we are sending electrons through will save the world, and each other. But how insular this is!

I won't even repeat the demographics of users. I won't repeat the ratio of non-users to users, or their demographics.

I am a pessimist. I can't help but think how we are distracted by the new fantasy, the new religion that infects individuals, corporations, and governments, that we must plug in to be alive. And I have shared this--share it still.

But as we throw so many to the wolves of history, what will we do when they come for us?

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