A Conversation for Ask h2g2

"The internet changed EVERYTHING." Discuss.

Post 1

Just Bob aka Robert Thompson, plugging my film blog cinemainferno-blog.blogspot.co.uk

At one point, maybe 15 years ago, there was a widespread body of opinion that the internet would turn every aspect of our lives on its head, probably in ways we couldn't possibly predict. Now we've had it for a while, and I wonder whether it has or not. What has changed? What changes did we think would happen that haven't really materialised? Is it, perhaps, still too early to judge? After all, children born into the "internet age" are not yet wage-earning adults.

No Subject

Post 2

Chris Morris

The "Arab Spring" process is possibly an indication of how much the internet is capable of promoting change - not necessarily causing it but facilitating it and possibly spreading a western liberal hegemony.

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Post 3


Interesting question. I did this same convo some years ago and I personally came to the conclusion that some changes in society resulting from it are more significant to some than others.
I still think that largely humanity is much as it was before it's just that the same things can happen more quickly and more easily than prior. Communication and logistics are just faster rather than being massively different.
The Arab Spring - maybe it would have happened anyway eventually and be longer and more drawn out. It hasn't finished yet though of course and the jury, I think, is still out on whether Egyptians, Tunisians and elsewhere will be more free and safer from brutal dictatorships long term.

This does of course have societal consequences as more people now work for amazon.com and less for haberdashery shops on the high street but the motor car is also heftily responsible for the loss of the latter.

Christmas shopping is soooooo much easier now though smiley - winkeye

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Post 4

Icy North

We can have multiple virtual personas and secret lives

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Post 5


We can have multiple virtual personas and secret lives...

smiley - winkeye

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Post 6

Icy North

You are 2legs and I claim my smiley - 2cents

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Post 7


This is a tricky place to effectively pose the question "has any part of your life NOT been changed by the internet?" because we're self-selectingly a rather online-leaning bunch.

It is still an interesting question, though. From my own life: you might think my current main hobby of paragliding, involving as it does mainly going out into the real world and doing something real, wouldn't necessarily have changed much. The hills are the same, the wings are still wings, you still have to carry the one up the other and the weather hasn't changed all that much. But...

- most of my flying expeditions in company are now planned the night before on Facebook
- most of the decisions about where and whether to go on an expedition are made in reference to online weather resources
- when I land after having flown out of sight of takeoff and need to let someone know where I am, I use Google Latitude.
- when I get home, I upload a tracklog of the flight to a website where there's an ongoing competition to see who can fly furthest, and I can view that tracklog on Google Earth.

It's not an exaggeration to say the internet has transformed paragliding.

It's certainly transformed shopping. I've had three pretty successful relationships with people I'd not have met except through internet dating. My music, film and book collections are transformed. My contacts with my friends are more frequent and informal than otherwise. I'm trying to think of some part of my life that hasn't NOT been touched by the internet, and I'm struggling...

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Post 8

pauh, still writing

Thanks to the Internet, Justin Bieber is the third most powerful celebrity on the planet, according to Forbes Magazine.

How does that affect you? You are reading this via the Internet. You probably already know of Bieber's existence because he has mentioned on the Internet. Bieber's career took off because he posted recordings of his music on YouTube, and a music industry promoter heard them and signed him to a contract. Bieber is said to use Facebook and Twitter with consummate skill.

The Internet was originally designed to foster communication between members of the academic community, and was also supposed to help people in the military communicate with each other. However, it didn't take long for retail organizations to figure out that vast sums of money could be spent by people who wanted to buy items that weren't in any local stores. EBay took off from there, as did Amazon.com and many other online vendors. A growing number of governments have begun requiring that companies submit information and tax money to them electronically via the Internet.

I personally have filled my house with stuff that I bought online. Most of it is stuff I wouldn't have even known about without the Internet.

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Post 9


>>The Internet was originally designed to foster communication between members of the academic community, and was also supposed to help people in the military communicate with each other.<< [paulh]

True, of course - but whereabouts in that assessment does the World Wide Web come into it? Surely the WWW was the defining moment that gathered general humanity to itself?
All Hail Tim Berners-Lee

No doubt something along these lines would have happened anyway, at some time... but until then, the internet was restricted (though widening) to those with the means.

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Post 10


Many years ago I read a hard sf novel called "Twistor" by John Cramer. It was written in the late eighties and concerned the adventures of a physicist who discovered a way to reach a parallel universe.

In it, the hero uses something called "BitNet", which already sounded quaint when I read the story in 1992, near the dawn of the world wide web. The author wrote an afterword about the real science, such as it was, behind the story. His words on Bitnet went like this:

"BitNet is an actual worldwide computer network that is already in very active use by the physics community. However, at present it is used primarily for 'mail' messages between users and for the transmission of data files and programs. It is not in general use for the transmission of scientific papers and preprints because these usually include a number of figures; for example, line drawings of equipment or data plots. Although CompuServe's GIF standard, Adobe's Post Script, and several others are looming on the horizon, there is presently no universal graphics standard that would permit the routine inclusion of figures in scientific papers, and so they are still distributed by conventional mail.
It is a good bet that this will soon change. The scientific journals published by the American Institute of Physics, e.g.,Physical Review, already accept manuscripts submitted on computer media. It is very likely that within a decade physics papers for journal publication complete with drawings and figures will be submitted and preprints of such papers will be routinely circulated by BitNet or its successor. One can only hope that publishers of works of fiction (like the present novel) will also eventually emerge from the nineteenth century and adopt similar technology.

John Cramer
Seattle, Washington
December 22, 1987".


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Post 11



I know of him, I am aware he got known via the internet...I have only just found out it is due to Youtube...I know what he looks like just about but wouldn't know one of his songs.

I also have no idea what Kim Cardassian(sic) does is/the point of etc...

You can still choose to not know stuff but if you do want to know stuff it is easier to find out.

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Post 12

Sho - unemployed again - Thanks Covid-19

the internet has made feeding my reading habit so much easier

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Post 13

Mol - on the new tablet


We watched a programme about 1995 over Christmas. When I said, "It was a different world," Osh (aged 10) demanded to know why, and listed lots of ways in which it looked exactly the same (people, cars, shops etc). When I told him that for a start, we didn't have the internet then, he was absolutely staggered: "What did you DO all day?"

So yeah, fairly transformed. In 1994 when information was coming to us from Norway it would be arranged in advance by phone call, we'd all have to log out of the network, and then we'd wait half an hour for the data to come through. Nowadays at work everything I do, pretty well, is done via internet connection; and we're fairly close to being paperless.

And I can remember Tomorrow's World telling us, many years ago, how one day nobody would own records, and if we wanted to listen to a music track we'd do so over the phone. Which is kind of what has happened.

And oh, books. Books I never even knew existed and might only ever have found by chance, at a jumble sale (for you youngsters, a jumble sale was a local, real-life version of Ebay) ... books like that I can now find and buy. And it turns out that lots of other people like the books I like and I can find them, too, and talk to them. All over the world. All without leaving my little village. It's great.


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Post 14

MMF - Keeper of Mustelids, with added P.M.A., is now in a relationship.

>>at a jumble sale (for you youngsters, a jumble sale was a local, real-life version of Ebay)<<

Ah! Jumble Sales. Remembered so fondly.

worked at least two a month. Selected our three favourite items before opening, after the dealers had sifted through (Shysters!) then at the end, raiding the clothing for buttons and woollens. Sunday spent in front of the television, eating sandwiches which had been made beforehand, stripping down woollens, ready to be hanked up and recycled into new jerseys.

And Books? Better than the library. All those 1940's film books and pre-WWWII stuff.

Heaven. smiley - angel

Boot-fairs just don't do it, smiley - sadface


smiley - musicalnote

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Post 15


The thing to remember, of course, is that it's still very early on in its infancy. What *will* it have changed in another twenty years? There's really no way of knowing, but I suspect it will be quite a lot.

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Post 16

pauh, still writing

Streaming audio and video probably have a bright future on the Internet. My favorite radio station has a website. People anywhere in the world can log into it and hear live radio broadcasts.

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Post 17


It's quite possible that TV channels and radio stations, as we know them, will no longer exist because there just won't be any profit in that model of broadcasting.

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Post 18


I think there's still a disruption to come in the way artists are paid. It's already happening in music, and I think it's going to happen to a lesser extent in television, and probably actually less so to cinema. Here's my logic:

1. in centuries to come, the 20th will be looked back upon as a blip - the one time in history where it was, for a very limited period, possible to become fabulously wealthy simply by writing and performing music. People like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Pink Floyd will be regarded as having been very, very lucky to have lived when they did. It's already becoming more difficult for bands like that to become established, because they can't huge revenues from sales of recordings any more. I don't have a major problem with this, personally. In time, music will go back to being closer to what it used to be - something quite a lot of people made a reasonable living at from playing live, rather than something that a very few people made an obscene amount of money from selling recordings.

2. it was easy to disrupt the music industry first because filesize, cost of storage, and bandwidth were limited, and music files are small. Video files, especially of any decent quality, are larger... but better codecs, cheaper storage and broadband means I can stream movies now.

It was also easy to disrupt music because anyone can make it - instruments are relatively cheap, and with modern computers you don't even really need instruments. So there's nothing stopping people making music in their garage and distributing it online. There WAS something stopping people making television shows - the cost of equipment. Except... now you can buy high definition video cameras for peanuts, edit the output and create high-end special effects on cheap home PCs and upload the results to a sharing site. Anyone can do it - the only variable is the quality of the output, just like with the music business. Right now, the television companies are acting as the quality filter. I invite you to comment on how good a job they're doing. It's already the case, though, that creative people are bypassing conventional production companies and just making their own stuff and posting it online. Right now, they're doing so in order to secure jobs in the old-fashioned TV industry... and it's working. But much more of that, and people will start to simply watch their output before it's "produced".

3. the above applies to television, in the form of comedy, soaps, game shows, current affairs etc. It does NOT apply to movies. Why? Because the experience is different. You can't (yet) make the Hobbit on a home PC with shop-bought cameras. You WILL be able to, this century, if you can be bothered. But what you won't be able to do is replicate, in your home, the experience of watching it on a screen the size of a double decker bus. There will (I think) always be a market for cinema, the more so in fact as our alternative to it paradoxically shrinks... "competition" for cinema used to be TV, and TVs got bigger and bigger. I was very pleased with my 24" 4:3, and even more pleased when it broke and I had an excuse to buy a 28" widescreen. I'm now on a 50" plasma... but I hardly ever watch it. Most of the video content I consume comes to me on a screen that fits in the palm of my hand. Which is fine if all I'm doing is watch cats jump into or out of boxes, but for the Hobbit it doesn't really cut it. Cinema is safe, I think...

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Post 19

Sho - unemployed again - Thanks Covid-19

The internet has changed the way I work completely. Previously my sort of job involved a lot of telephoning (later telexing and faxing) and letters. Endless letterwriting.

Now everything is done by email and phone (less so by phone) and some of the people I have to contact are more easily and conveniently (for both of us) reached via some sort of instant messaging system.

And all our actual work that is done in the company system is on servers on a different continent (although my dream of a paperless office is far away (or is it just small?)

No Subject

Post 20

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

I had a professor make the argument that our attention spans are dwindling and it's impacting student performance. Computers are great for creating readable notes in class, but when you have a class with a laptop in front of you how much time are we crafting organized, multi-colored notes, and how much of the time are you on Facebook?

He doesn't allow computers in his day classes, but since us night students have limited time what with jobs, families, and responsibilities, he let's us use them. He suggested that part of the reasons that our grade distribution was slightly lower was due to the laptop rule.

We're used to the instant availability of information, so now we have issues when we have to wait for information in a more conventional way. Can we function without a smart phoned in our hands.

I'll be teaching a week long class in April, and I don't think I'll be allowing computers in the room.

smiley - handcuffs

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