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a person's attempt to make sense of his surroundings

COM125: Some thoughts on the Internet

The word “internet”: so ubiquitous that my automated word-check allows me to spell it without a capital “I”.

There is a statement my lecturer said that caught my attention during his introductory lecture on the internet: “The internet will be increasingly ‘invisible’ as time goes by”.

Why is this so? Well, take the example of my first statement. Back when the internet was recently introduced, it meant a world of possibilities to me. I was (and still am) a gamer. I played started playing games like Myst and X-Comwhen I was around five years old, which was around nineteen years ago. These games were so complicated and their interfaces so convoluted I spent days figuring out how to get past their initial starting zones. And when I got stuck, I could not simply tab out and search the internet for a guide.

Just try to guess what the meanings of each of the symbols in the lower end of the screen are for. JUST TRY!

XCom Screenshot: Try figuring out what the symbols represent!

Why not? Because the internet wasn’t readily available for regular consumers me to use then. And when my house finally had internet access, I found out the simple joys of finding websites and forums that shared my previously niche interests. Textbooks and websites spelt the “Internet” with a capital “I”, because of the awe and reverence of the convenience and power this new method of communication gave. Suddenly I knew ten other people who played the same game as I did, when previously I knew none! I could find out about new and exciting games as they were being developed, through the developer journal logs that were posted online!

The “Internet” back then also had several drawbacks: I could only be online for limited periods of time, as my 56k internet connection caused my only phone line to be jammed. There were also difficulties separating authentic news from sensationalist or fabricated writings of con-men.

Fast forward today: My blog post is saved automatically to the ‘cloud’ (where data is stored in an online server that is available 24/7) every ten seconds, so that if my computer crashes, I would still be able to recover my data from the ‘cloud’ as well. I check email and tweets from my mobile phone which also happens to be more powerful that the computer I used to play my first computer games with nineteen years ago. There is integrated word-check software within my browser that checks for spelling and grammatical errors which can even be configured to automatically change mistakes that I commonly make. My broadband modem is connected to data lines that are running at up to 2Mbps, which is 35 times faster than a 56k modem, and doesn’t jam phone calls.

While the end-user  is simply typing out a blog post, he is oblivious to all these complicated processes are operating “under the hood”.

This can lead to several dangers. Because ‘cloud’ computing has processes that are invisible to the end-user, if there is any problems that happen in the ‘cloud’ phase, the end-user would be consequently lack the knowledge or ability to fix them. Here’s an example: What if online stock trading was suddenly compromised due to unforeseen circumstances? This can mean the return to the Dark Ages for online stock traders, as they have become wholly independent on the internet as their primary source of information.

Dark Ages

As Lead Stock Trader of his team, Will had to wear this snazzy helmet when riding his horse to work everyday.

Would the internet and other subsequent technologies become increasingly ‘invisible’ as time goes by? In my opinion, I agree it would. Someone has already connected his nervous system to the internet and controlled a robot arm using nothing but his mind and an internet connection. The future is bright with endless possibilities. However, we must be mindful of potential avenues for exploitation and prevent ourselves from being too dependent on technologies that we have no direct power over.

What do you think dear reader? Any ideas or new technologies you want to see in the future?

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4 Responses to “COM125: Some thoughts on the Internet”

  1. Internet is indeed dominating our everyday lives. Like other technology’s main purpose, Internet is aiming to improve the speed, convenience and efficiency of human activities. Although it has been doing an undeniably good job, internet is excelling so much that the original objective is rather being compromised. People are being less motivated to think for themselves or stay up a few nights for a creative ideas because at the ease of a mouse click, solutions to most problems are readily available. The joy of discovering something new on your own is simply not enough to keep people away from relying on existing source of others’ answers. If everyone stops thinking and creating while using others’ ideas, one day the world will come to a stop where everyone is using everyone else’s ideas. I guess as you say, it is about time people start to realize they are not becoming, but rather being, dependable on Internet.

    • Thanks for commenting Zoe!

      I agree with your notion that coming with an original solution is much less common that simply ‘googling’ for a few remedies online.

      Look at the bright side: Since creativity is running low, truly unique and innovative ideas to problems are much highly prized as well!

  2. I too, was struck by what Abel said about the Internet going unnoticed eventually in the future, or even now. “like air…we will/have taken it for granted”.

    I guess this is a huge sign how it’s so much a part of our lives that it is comparable to one of the necessities of life – air we breathe.

    Agreed with you that we shouldn’t lose sight of the potential “nasties” in the midst of all the positive contributions the Internet has and will give us. Issues like internet addiction, readily available false information, security of nations (etc)

    • Thanks for commenting Tim!

      Yes, the large and unsavory side of the Internet (like 4chan… *shivers*) looms large, and threatens to corrupt many an unsullied mind.

      That brings us to another question: Whether censorship of these “nasties” should be left to the authorities, or whether we should have the freedom to choose our sites without being censored.

      But we can dedicate a whole post to that…


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