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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: ICT
  • Word count: 3441

The Internet and its Improvements for Society

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Internet and its Improvements for Society "SYN" says Computer A to Computer B. "SYN, ACK" replies Computer B. Finally, Computer A repeats back, "ACK..." and proceeds to deliver some data to Computer B. This is a handshake for the transport layer of the Internet, the basis on which information is delivered from any computer to another, perhaps thousands of miles apart. It enables programs running on computers to communicate with similar programs running on the other computers on the Internet, thus enabling human users of these programs to interact with each other. Many have argued that the rapid growth of the Internet and the amount of time people devote to using it will degrade human interaction and destroy society. I will argue that, in the long run, personal interaction and the ability of society to function as a true community will improve dramatically because of it. The term 'Internet' was shortened from the notion of an internetwork which refers to the connection between many separate and independently managed networks of computers. This evolved from the world's first computer network which was described as "a U.S. government-funded wide area network called the ARPANET that began its life in the late 1960s."1 Now anyone who has, at the least, access to a telephone line can access the Internet, although most people in developed countries have access to a permanent high-speed connection. Each computer on the Internet is provided with a unique address, which the tools in common use utilize in order to communicate. Such tools allow users of the Internet to reach different ends and, whilst they are many, there are a select few that are the most popular due to their uniqueness. ...read more.

Middle

as "The Internet could be the ultimate isolating technology that further reduces our participation in communities even more than did automobiles and television before it."6 The basis for this seems to be the fact that the study shows that "Internet users spend less time in social activities."6 This is represented by a graph which shows that 26% of Internet users spend less time talking to family and friends on the telephone, half that amount of people spend less time actually with friends and family and only 8% report attending fewer social events. This may well be true, but in my opinion is only an indicator that the Internet promotes change in social habits. Since the uses of the Internet are mainly for communication, it seems bizarre to equate more use of the Internet with social isolation. In fact, if one's family and friends are on the Internet then using a service such as Instant Messaging which I have described above will surely increase the amount of social communication between such people. This is best put by the author of an article in reply to this study when she states, "[...] my 14-year-old son was ecstatic because he had finally gotten access to the chat room his school friends visit. Rather than sitting in front of the television [...] he happily chatted with his buddies."7 The worrying statistic in the study, however, is in fact the 8% of users who attend fewer social events. Whilst this is much lower than the percentage of those who use the telephone less, showing us again that the Internet is a replacement for such communication, it is something that takes up our time, either through increased amount of communication with family and friends, which the study fails to acknowledge, or through experiencing some of the never ending content available, either as sources of information, or merely pure entertainment. ...read more.

Conclusion

The communication that the Internet provides enables a much higher proportion of a community to experience this aspect and therefore feel more social responsibility towards their community. This is even proved by the fact that people who use the Internet are shown to be more politically active, both through voting and other activities such as signing petitions and writing letters to an elected official13. However, Winner's next logical point concerning communities of this nature is that it will create "diversity achieved through segregation."12 My opinion is that he believes this due to the uncertainty of how easy it would be to access the information of different "cyberniche[s]"12 whereas it is apparent now that taking part in each cultural niche on the Internet is open to the interested general public. I have shown earlier how the existence of such interest-specific communities formed both in or outside the Internet, but using it to communicate, can benefit, but Winner here is arguing that such communities will segregate us, forcing us to ignore "ways for people of vocations, ethnic backgrounds, income levels, and social interests to mediate their differences and to stake out some areas of shared commitment."12 Winner fails to see that the Internet does not threaten our off-line existence, it merely exists as a potential to integrate within our lives as a tool to ensure that any type of society can function with the maximum amount of participation and access. In this essay I have shown what the Internet provides and how it helps communities thrive. I have also shown how the way we do things has the potential to change dramatically because of the Internet, and that our on-line and off-line worlds are becoming integrated and enhanced by each other. In these ways, the Internet can only be a benefit to society, and a revolutionary one at that. ...read more.

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