At 25 years old, the Internet is a relatively new forum. It is difficult to believe that the initial niche technology, which was understood, and used, by few has evolved into the mass medium it is today with more than 3 billion users worldwide. In Britain, long gone are the days of painfully slow connections with screechy dial-up-tones; 36 million adults now go online everyday – 20 million more than eight years ago. There is a wealth of information and opportunity on the Internet and this post will briefly outline four key areas in which the Internet has revolutionised our daily lives.
Arguably the most useful function of the Internet is its information sharing service. Rather than using books, the television and other offline portals to research, a plethora of information is available online which can be consulted 24-7. Education, healthcare and travel possibilities have been transformed to name but a few. For instance, when booking a holiday one can consult flight comparison sights, hotel review sites, weather forecasts and blogs which advise others what to see, do, eat and take.
Communicating and Social Media
The Internet has revolutionised the way we communicate. Long gone are the days of sending a message by telegram, post or fax. The Internet has enabled global connections to be built, with information being sent world-wide in seconds, for free, primarily through e-mail. On average, 191 billion e-mails are now sent every day.
Social media is another phenomenon derived from the Internet. Through social media users can create, share and exchange information through written content, pictures and videos. Users are now using an array of social media sites to connect with friends, family, athletes and sporting personalities, celebrities, politicians and even royalty. Facebook, for instance, has 1.32 billion users worldwide with more than a third of Britons using the site every day. Pop star Lady Gaga has 41.1 million followers on Twitter which is more than the population of Australia (22.86 million), and as of March, 2012, there had been more than one trillion video playbacks on YouTube.
The Internet has changed the structure of employment in an unprecedented manner. The Internet and technology have been integrated into existing roles, created new roles and enabled new ways of organising and delivering work. In the global, connected world information can be sent worldwide in real time, in seconds and employees can enjoy the flexibility of working from home.
As well as contributing to the general mobility of the workforce, job seekers can now search and apply for thousands of jobs online. Rather than scouring multiple newspapers or jobs boards in different areas, users can access job vacancies from all over the world. Applicants can also filter vacancies in terms of a range of specifications, including type of job, location or pay rate, which can make the time consuming job search much more streamlined.
Shopping, Sport and Leisure
Rather than the saying ‘shop ‘til you drop’ being paramount, in the digital age, ‘shop ‘til you log off’ has never been truer. The Internet has dramatically altered the way consumers shop – whilst in 2000 British shoppers spent £800 million online, last year they spent £91 billion. From the comfort of the user’s home, retailers are now open 24-7, and goods can even be delivered to the user on the same day they are ordered.
In the digital age, the production and consumption of sport has also changed. Over a quarter of sports fans cite the Internet as their primary source of sports news and information, with the Internet being used to check scores, news stories and commentaries. Over a third of sports fans also use the Internet to watch sporting events, videos and clips.
The Internet is an increasingly popular leisure activity – on average, people spend roughly 100 minutes of their free time surfing the web every day. There is a host of leisure activities and opportunities online including gaming, interacting with friends, watching TV and films, downloading content and newspaper reading.
The potential of the Internet is both colossal and impossible to predict. It remains to be seen what the Internet will enable within the next 25 years...