Every so often something emerges that changes the fabric of society. The wheel revolutionized the human ability to move and perform hard labor. The printing press made publishing literature easier and faster. Electricity spawned a maelstrom of invention and innovation with previously inconceivable things. One of these was the computer. It was a giant leap in technological power, but it wasn’t until the internet connected our computers together we really began to see widespread usage of computers. The internet provided a cheap, reliable means of communication and access to information.
The dawn of the internet began an age of information sharing that would come to dominate our society. We’ve seen computers evolve from the off-white plastic, CRT-based desktop computers into tiny hand-held phones and watches with a live connection to the internet. As you look over the history of computers, the web has been a catalyst for change in countless areas of life. What is it that makes the internet so powerful? Why do we have over 6 billion devices connected to the internet around the world?
One word: Information. The web offers immediate access to information we use every day. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you check the weather? Do you skim over emails, or flick through your twitter feed? As you go throughout your day, what is the common thread that keeps you connected? Most often, it’s information. Sure, it’s nice to keep in contact with friends on Facebook, see the latest YouTube video or jam to some music, but in the end our consumption of social networks and media has a root in the information.
What would the internet be without the data we rely upon? Remember paper maps that you had to buy at the store? What about the encyclopedia salesmen that came door to door? Or, maybe you have a copy of your favorite dictionary laying around somewhere? The sad news is that all of these sources were out of date by the time they were off the printing presses. These are perfect examples of how our society has changed from the web.
We can ask Siri or Google almost anything and get an accurate answer. Wikipedia has dominated as a source for every fact we could ever need. Our devices keep us informed to the latest news and information that our lives run on. Our refrigerators can tell us if we need to pick up milk. The garage door opener can reassure you that you did indeed close it on your way out.
The web has also brought us closer together. We have invented new ways of kickstarting projects and donating to important issues. Churches and non-profit organizations can more effectively spread the word about their causes, and communicate within to bring their communities together.
Our lives are more connected than ever. As we message with friends, check the weather, read author-published books, take online courses and stay up on the latest news, we do so with information. It’s the information that is the key. It’s the information that drives our desire to stay connected. The information evolves our society.
The bad part is that when the ninja-zombie-robot-pocalypse finally happens, and we have to detonate a world-wide EMP to save the human race…all that data is going to be lost. Where will we be? I hope I still have my copy of the US Army Survival Manual somewhere. Ok. Back to the topic.
There’s absolutely no doubt that the dawn of the internet has changed our world. The web has opened up the door to accessible information from almost anywhere. Every day the world becomes more connected. The most remote regions are gaining internet access (albeit slow). We are watching the emergence of a new state of humanity, where access to information is literally everywhere, and in everything. The power of the web is based in our ability to access the information it contains. This is why we must do everything to make the web performant and accessible to all.