Inventions have their greatest impact when they go beyond their possible practical applications and act upon the imagination. When Martin Behaim invented the first globe in 1490, a functionally useless object consisting mostly of terra incognita, he was widely ridiculed; but somehow the ideas that his globe represented stuck, and within a few decades the basic validity of his construction was confirmed by the voyages of Columbus, Cabot, Vasco de Gama, Magellan, and others. Today, with efforts to situate the rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially the Internet, in the context of globalization, there is a similar division between those who dismiss it as being of no importance and those who see in it a looming (for good or ill) global revolution. But, as with Behaim's globe, the imaginary possibilities of these innovations are important in determining how and to what extent human existence is to be transformed by them.
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