Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Was there life before the internet?

In the picture (above) is my dear friend and housemate Rumbi and I (I, being represented by the second laptop facing the camera that’s sat on my lap). We are on the couch working on different things on laptop computers and occasionally speaking to one another, mainly to request songs we are “streaming” [this is a one-way audio transmission over an internet network -]. We then started talking about the population of the world (yes, all 6 billion plus people) and I said that China had the largest population in the world which we agreed but then we started to wonder which country was the largest geographically but did not know and after about 30 seconds Rumbi said, ‘why don’t we look it up online!?!)  To which we both turned back t the laptops on our laps and started searching away… in less than a minute we had the answer…Russia! Yes, just like that, at a click of a button we had out on our couch, access to a multitude of libraries and all their information were available to us…
The World Wide Web (WWW) has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, computer and Internet set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities. The internet was invented by Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, a British engineer and computer scientist between 1989 and1991. The Web has become a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard to geographic location.

I wonder if the scene I described earlier is the idea that Sir Tim had in mind back in 1989 when he first suggested the global internet… Had he considered the possibility of groups of people in different countries around the world being able to share their every moment together through social networking sites such as facebook or twitter? Or the online dating scene that brings strangers together and sees countless relationships and marriage unions formed as a result? Had he considered the possibility that I would be in a country 8 256 km away from my parents and would be able to see them on live video as well as chat to them daily using an IM medium (instant messenger and Skype to be precise). It really is an amazing feeling each day when I get to see my Daddy through a webcam conversation on Skype each day and it is really great to be able to brainstorm ideas, ask her questions and share my day with my Mummy through Google talk, these systems and indeed the internet is so much more important to me personally because I have not seen my parents in person for a few years…The same is true about my sister in America and my brother when he was in Namibia. The internet has taken traditional distances and geographical space which used to be a barrier to regular communication and brought Zimbabwe, Namibia and America into my living room and onto my lap in my laptop.
My friend stated that she studied for her whole degree without withdrawing a single book from her university library because all the information she required was readily available on the internet. Others can complete degrees online whilst residing in a different country. With the boom of businesses, many companies exist solely on the internet and transact through online mediums without owning a single shop. The World Wide Web has in twenty years completely changed the way we communicate, how we see each other, who we can meet, how we work, are educated and how we do business for better and for worse…The internet has many dangers and like all things, there is a good and a bad, but for people like me, who have family scattered across the globe and friends to boot! It has given an opportunity for relationships to be maintained and continuously invested in, in real time… Sir Tim, I salute you!


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