These next four months will be by far the longest time I've spent in the United States in 28 years, since I moved to Italy in 1985. I've been here two weeks now and it’s clear that a lot has changed since 1985 but despite globalization it is striking how far ahead of Italy the U.S. is with the spread of information technology. The other day I looked on the web for auto insurance and partially filled out two forms for quotes, leaving them unfinished, before going out to do some shopping. When I got home I had two voice mail messages from insurance companies asking me if I needed any help filling out the forms. Nothing like that has ever happened to anyone I know in Italy.
There have been countless other examples of the omnipresence of IT over the past two weeks. But plenty of IT doesn’t necessarily mean plenty of I. Not once in the past two weeks have I seen or heard a news story about Italy and several well-informed and sophisticated people have asked me the name of the current prime minister or if a photo I’d sent them by email was actually Silvio Berlusconi. All the data zipping around seems to block out more information than it brings in.