July 12, 2001 -- Let's say you are a student in the Philippines and you are trying to get your president impeached. And what you really need to do is start a big demonstration — and fast.
What do you do? You gather a crowd by "texting" people, which is typing and sending them very short messages, using the readout screen on a cell phone or a pager with a tiny keyboard.
It's cheaper than actually calling everyone you know and can be used to reach many people at once, so it takes less time.
"You're talking about being able to access somebody no matter where they are, no matter what time of the day it is, no matter whether they're at work, at home, whether they're walking down the street," says Josh Newman, the editor of unstrung.com, a company that follows this technology.
American Airlines has begun using text messaging by sending messages to passengers if their flights are delayed.
The New York Police Department is using text messengers instead of bulky computers to check license plates.
And the technology really did help oust former Philippine President Joseph Estrada last January. The media called it the "text-messaging revolution."
"The joke goes that President Estrada is the only chief of state in the world to be ousted by text messaging," wrote the Manila Standard.
It's also the rage among the world's teenagers. In Britain, 77 percent of teens own cell phones, but they're texting on them, not talking.
"Text is really driving it, because the youngsters especially love the idea that they can do something a little bit secret," says Paul Edwards, a British telecommunications consultant. "[It's] really very much a young person's communication."
Look around and you'll see more people texting, because it's cheap, it's cool and it's just like e-mail, except it's with you all the time.
"And it's about information you need immediately at a certain location," says Newman.
And if you have any doubt that it's already changing our lives, think of Al Gore last November. He was in his motorcade on the way to concede the presidential election when his staff stopped him by sending him a text message.