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The Internet Allows People To Connect
The greatest advancement in the information and communications technology industry in the last ten years in my opinion is the continuing development, proliferation, and explosion of the Internet, particularly through social media sites. The Internet allows people to connect to each other easily from around the globe, thereby making a way for people to communicate and build relationships, conduct business, purchase foreign goods, play games, and share ideas.
The Internet traces its origins to 1958, when AT&T created the first commercial modem. This allowed computers to communicate over normal phone lines. In 1969, the Department of Defense constructed ARPANET, connecting the University of Utah with two universities in California. By the mid-1970s, there were 57 interconnected sites (or nodes) in the network. This allowed researchers, both scientific and military, to share research and computational capacity.
The World Wide Web was invented in 1990 in an effort to further link scientific researchers, and by 1991, thanks to the development of web browsers and new computer languages, the Web became available to the general public. What began as a military and scientific project became significantly commercialized by 1995, and businesses began to embrace the new opportunities it presented.
The Internet can help businesses in a number of aspects. Through a local network, a business can use the Internet to store vast amounts of information in one location and be able to have multiple people access it from different offices. A company may also utilize the Internet to extend its reach globally, both tangibly and intangibly. For example, a corporation might set up one branch office in Germany and another branch office on one of the Polynesian Islands, with both branches having access to the same information and resources, while presenting a seamless presence to the public. In addition, both businesses and individuals can make contacts and conduct trade with other businesses and individuals virtually anywhere in the world, almost as easily as with someone next door.
Friendships can be made on the Internet as well. Facebook, Twitter, chatrooms, and other social networking websites allow people to become members of a group with shared interests. These groups may include followers of a certain ideology, videogame enthusiasts, contributors to a graphic novel, literary and reading groups, celebrity fans, political pundits, religious disciples, or even people looking for someone to date or marry (one of the fastest growing segments in the social media revolution). The possibilities are endless, as are the potential numbers of people that may be connected. According to Facebook‚??s Press Page, there are over 500 million active users, interacting with 900 million objects, with more than 30 billion pieces of content shared each month. As of November 2010, people are spending over 700 billion minutes per month just on Facebook‚??s network. That is staggering.
The Internet has made everyone a ‚??publisher.‚?Ě It is an open forum for the free exchange of ideas and images, even in countries where the press and the free expression of ideas are otherwise controlled. Independent artists, including both students and professionals, share their artwork and other original creative works on sites such as Deviant Art. Writers share their stories and ideas by blogging or posting on thousands of websites. YouTube is another great example of people sharing their ideas, namely through the format of videos available for almost anyone to view. According to the Website Monitoring service, YouTube exceeds two billion views a day, with 24 hours of new video uploaded every minute. ‚??More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than all 3 major US networks created in 60 years.‚?Ě (Source: www.viralblog.com/research/youtube-statistics.)
Games also have changed due to the Internet, both the kinds played in real life and video games. In both formats of gaming, people can play against other players around the world, or even expand on the games they currently have by downloading other options such as bonus characters, additional levels, and even more challenging difficulties. Role plays can now be done online, allowing players to interact with other players from around the world, either in a forum of some sort or via a chatroom.
Access to education is another example of the Internet‚??s usefulness. College classes can be taken online from the convenience of a person‚??s home. At my school, Madison Central High School, a student or his or her parent can check on the student‚??s grades from a special Internet resource called Active Parent. Teachers post assignments and administrators record events to give up-to-date information. Other things posted on Active Parent include the student‚??s disciplinary actions, class schedule, daily grades, term grades, and homework grades.
The Internet even helped me out as well. At age six, I was diagnosed with ADHD; a tic disorder; Asperger Syndrome (provisional); auditory processing deficits; and challenges with pragmatic language, motor skills, and vigilance. As I was undergoing speech therapy, we purchased a program that used a variety of interactive games accessed from the Internet to help accelerate my language level by two years in eight weeks‚?? time. It would have taken months, possibly years, in traditional language therapy. This happened all while the Internet was still relatively new to the general public, in 1998. The delivery methodology was so new, in fact, that I was the guinea pig for the Mississippi Society for Disabilities. My therapist volunteered her time, and my parents purchased the program. But for the Internet, I might still be struggling to express myself.
The Internet has transformed our world and our lives by bringing vast quantities of information into our homes, schools, and businesses by the punch of a button or the click of a mouse. Surely no other discovery or innovation comes close to the impact of this media for sharing ideas. For me personally, it was transformational, and its impact immeasurable.