There are lots of examples of how the Internet hasn't rendered the physical world irrelevant, but instead made it more accessible. For example, today I got a visa to go to Australia next week. Actually, I just got the visa a few minutes ago, while sitting in a chair in the bedroom.

via flickr

The Australian Electronic Travel Authority Web site lets you apply for a visa online. For anyone who remembers the whole process of standing in line at a consulate, this is a small miracle, almost up there with the revolution in international calling. It's so much easier, it's hard to describe.

Of course, like any good miracle, it consists of a couple parts. The first is being able to avoid lines: I did all this at home. Second, and probably more impressive, the visa no longer has to take physical expression in the form of a stamp in my passport: the visa resides in the Australian customs' database, which presumably is present whenever you (legally) enter the country.

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