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Wired nation

By Erica Hill
CNN Headline News

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(CNN) -- Imagine the founding fathers living in today's world. They wrote with quills -- we opt for our keyboards. News took weeks to reach the colonies -- we have instant messaging.

Picture Paul Revere whipping out his Blackberry on that night so long ago. Or maybe he would have gone with simple text-messaging. A cell phone call would have been a no-no; the British might have listened in!

The Declaration of Independence may have been e-mailed; maybe even signed digitally. OK, John Hancock may have opted for a quill over a stylus -- why sacrifice that famous flourish?

The technological improvements made over the past two centuries are, of course, astounding. But what's even more amazing is the technologies that didn't exist even 35 years ago that today we can't seem to live without.

Remember life pre-ATM? You actually had to plan ahead for the amount of cash you would need for the entire weekend -- not just one night out.

Making plans also took more effort. No barbecue e-vites, no online calendar of events. You had to actually pick up a local newspaper and read it to plan your holiday fun.

Running late? Lost directions to the holiday party? Forget making a call on your cell phone from the car (stopped and pulled to the side of the road, of course). You had to unfold a map and find your way -- unless you were lucky enough to find a pay phone in a safe area and had two dimes.

While those days gone by were simpler and perhaps a little more peaceful, I don't think I'm ready to turn back the clock. Technology has connected us worldwide. I can talk to my friends overseas and catch up with my parents every day if I want, thanks to e-mail.

We've come along way since 1776. I can't imagine writing this column on a typewriter. I don't miss the days of white-out, that's for sure! Let's hope one thing remains, however: The ability to enjoy our technology without getting lost in it.

From everyone at "HotWired": Have a great Fourth of July.

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