Our love/hate relationship with the Internet and the World Wide Web truly is fascinating, to say the least. We love it because information of any kind is at our fingertips, anywhere that we have a connection or a wireless signal. And we hate it when people abuse it, annoy us with spam, scams and pop-ups and even steal individual identities and personal stuff.
The Internet can save time and create efficiency and productivity for you. It can also be consuming and even addicting, causing obsession and stress.
But the possibilities seem endless in this information age of technology driven citizenry. Businesses have marketplace presence now that is unprecedented and the brick and mortar storefront is not necessarily essential any longer to many businesses. Folks desire the easy “shop on line and send it to me” concept.
Because of the Internet explosion, cell phone technology has improved and expanded tremendously.
I remember when I worked for Southwestern Bell in Dallas in the 1970’s, the prediction was made that in the future you would have your personal telephone number and no matter where you moved, you would always have the same telephone number. That seemed outrageous at the time. But certainly that industry has done just that and so much more.
We still have news broadcasts on TV. But do you need to be sitting in front of your television at 6:00 pm to get your news now? Certainly not. Access it on the Web anytime, day or night, from multiple media sources on your PC, laptop, tablet or iPhone. (Alexander Graham Bell had no idea what he started. If he had, the first words over his telephone may have been, “Mr. Watson, stay there!”)
So, I thought it would be interesting to get a snapshot over the next couple of posts of where all this came from and where the experts see it to be going.
Obviously, the Internet has exploded in our lifetime. The younger generation takes it for granted these days, but for those of us that were around before the cell phone, it is truly mind boggling in more ways than one. My generation saw the first man in space. There is more technology in your hand held device than was in that Mercury capsule.
Bill Clinton’s presidency was from 1993 to 2003. That’s just eleven short years ago. He is quoted as saying, “When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the World Wide Web…now even my cat has its own page.” It seems ridiculous to some, but yes, pets have their own web pages and blogs. Why, you can even find a page for worriers. If you can’t find anything to worry about, go there and they will load you up. And there is a site that you can see others’ thoughts of, and list your own ideas about what your chicken nugget shape reminds you of. (You can’t make this stuff up, folks.)
Growing up in an almost “Norman Rockwell world” meant that we had to answer the telephone when it rang to find out who was calling. There was no Caller ID or voice mail, and answering machines were unheard of.
If you wanted to make a call while you were out, you must stop at a payphone and spend a quarter for the privilege. Personal computers had not been conceived and in 1977, Kenneth Olsen, the President and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation stated that “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” (They were out of business by 1996.) Even Bill Gates, in the early 1990’s, declared that 640K was more than enough memory for anyone’s computer.
Wow, we have come a long way, baby. And many geeks are saying that it has only just begun; that the future holds things in store that we cannot conceive. My great grandmother, looking at the changes in her world, used to say, “Wiser and weaker.” (Little did she know, in those 1960’s, where we were headed.) There is a lot to be said for that statement, however. Technology has increased and our minds can get placed on pause at times. Instead of being encouraged to think and reason, the computers can do it for us. Even classes on logic and critical thinking have been removed from many classrooms. But that’s a subject for a different day.
The power of the Internet is definitely here to stay. From 0.4% of the world’s population being Internet users in 1995 to almost 41% now in 2014, it continues to grow and change every day. It will continue to affect our daily lives in radical ways and we are bound by its tenacity.
We can’t escape it. We can’t divorce it. It’s a relationship that we must live with or retire to the hills of Arkansas, grow a garden and let the world go by. (Sometimes that seems like a good idea!)
But, on the serious side, technology is great and it can be a very useful tool. Next time I will take a look at some history of the Internet and some fun facts about it. In the meantime, remember, you really don’t need that home computer, do you?