People have always been attracted to the ocean. Oceans evoke great distance, travel and adventure. Standing on the ocean shore is like waiting in an airport, ready to go somewhere far away.

The ocean symbolizes freedom. It conveys the feeling that “if I wanted to, I could swim very far away.” Nobody would really do it, because we don’t enjoy true freedom. We are attached to things, to other people and to our responsibilities. But it is human nature to dream like that. That’s the reason most of us want to live in a house or apartment with an ocean view.

The ocean connects. It is an ancient and slow internet. If you swam west from Vancouver, and had unlimited energy, you would reach Hawaii. You could give an important message to an intended recipient there, and then you could swim back. You would be like one megabyte of data sent from a Vancouver computer to a Hawaii computer.

The word surfing suggests another parallel between the internet and the ocean. Duke Kahanamoku, from Waikiki in Hawaii, who promoted surfing, would be amazed that it is possible to surf without a surf board. You can surf internet sites, but that isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience. It all depends on the sites you surf. The ocean’s advantage, compared to the internet, is that it is never out of service. It is always here, and was here long before we can imagine.

Sunset Beach Oahu Surfing

Thanks to Vancouver’s port, goods from all over the world flow to Canada through it on big cargo ships. These ships are like emails and their cargos are big attachments, which are transferred quickly, if we consider the speed of water transportation. Vancouver is like some kind of computer receiving these emails in the form of ships. Not long ago an oil spill happened in waters near Vancouver. In computer terminology, we can say that the city received junk mail. Vancouver is very sensitive to junk mail because it prefers a clean ocean. Beside goods, the ocean-internet brings tourists on big cruise ships to Vancouver every summer. When a cruise ship arrives, it looks like a city within the city. Cruise ships are emails with small attachments. After unzipping, small files—tourists—go to the city centre, sightseeing and taking pictures; but before that they get scanned by immigration. Immigration, like an anti-virus software, must be sure there are no viruses—like banned substances or people without legal status in the country.

Cargo Ship in Vancouver Harbour

The ocean is also a true predecessor of the television. Sunset in the evening, sunrise in the morning; the TV program during the day depends on your location, whether close to the harbour or in a quiet bay. People like looking in its distance. Watching the ocean is a pleasant and calming experience.

Cruise Ship in Burrard Inlet

If we agree that the ocean is an ancient internet and television, then waterfront cities have always had access to cable and the internet. Thanks to their connection, these cities have always had the advantage of being open to new ideas. Vancouver is one of them.

People in Vancouver like being close to their ocean. Both the ocean and the internet enable them to enjoy the dual connection to the world—a luxury not every city has.

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