Last year, a guest lecturer in one of my university subjects told me about the day when she first heard about the internet. She remembered being told that it was essentially a whole bunch of invisible ‘stuff’ that we were going to be able to access. Confused, she said, ‘but what is’ it – to her, the idea of something intangible that held such a vast amount of information was unimaginable. She was pleased to hear that it would ‘revolutionise’ the way that she did her job, and figured that it might allow her to search for people’s phone numbers one day, rather than having to flick through a directory.
This bunch of ‘stuff’ that we now know as the Internet, or the ‘World Wide Web’ has grown unimaginably bigger than what most people ever anticipated, and the accessibility to it has only increased this growth. In 2008, there were more ‘things’ on the internet than there were people. In less than 10 years, this has grown exponentially, particularly with the further development of social media, and the younger generations’ involvement with it.
For younger generations, the internet doesn’t seem that hard to grasp – it’s a bunch of ‘things’ that are brought together and stored in one network that we can access if we have hardware which is compatible with it (for example, a computer, smart phone or tablet), but it is always changing. In future generations, the ‘smart phone’ probably won’t include the word ‘smart’ in the title – why would it, if it’s assumed that all phones have basic functionality like access to the internet?
A video from the 1990s, advertising the internet was used by the FineBros YouTube channel on a segment they run called ‘Kids React’. In this video, kids react to a video that explains the benefits of the internet, which to us, seem quite basic. One boy in the original video says, ‘what’s a web page, something ducks walk on?’ demonstrating just how much the internet has become an integrated part of our everyday life.
The internet isn’t just a collection of random things – it’s a collection of ‘things’ that we had before in hard copy that have been made ‘soft’. Take for example, a phone book, a diary, physical books, television, games… the list goes on.
WorldWideWebSize, 2014, WorldWideWebSize.com | The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet), (online) Available at: http://www.worldwidewebsize.com/ (Accessed 23 October 2014)
TED, 2014, Would you prefer to read from book rather than from online website? | A conversation on TED.com (online) Available at: http://www.ted.com/conversations/18765/would_you_prefer_to_read_from.html (Accessed 23 October 2014)
SAS, 2014, What is the Internet of Things (IoT), (online) Available at: http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/internet-of-things.html (Accessed 23 October 2014)