Updated: Jan 21, 2019
We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain. - Stephen Hawking
We use it every single day, sometimes without even realising it, and not knowing much about it. The simple fact is, the internet has just become a way and fact of life for most of us. Recent generations, such as Gen Y (Millennials) and Gen Z (our youngest population), have never lived in a world without it, while older generations will remember no internet at all or tedious “dial up” internet of the late 20th century.
Its history begins with the development of electronic computers back in the 1950s and is defined as a globally connected network system that uses TCP (Transmission Control Program) and IP (Internet Protocol) to transmit data via various types of media, including private, public, business, academic and government networks – connected by guided, wireless and fibre-optic technologies.
Since the 1990s, the internet or World Wide Web, has greatly influenced and upgraded networking to global standards, whereby billions of internet users rely on multiple application and networking technologies in their day-to-day lives, including Email, Web-enabled audio/video conferencing, Online movies and gaming, Data transfer/file-sharing, Instant messaging, Forums, Social Media and networking and Online shopping.
Internet pioneers believed that “a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet” – and they were right, and although the internet is only a few decades old, in that short span of time it has experienced significant changes, now serving as a platform for business, communication, entertainment and education, as well as the ability to connect to this enormous network through dozens of different devices.
As for its future, one thing that seems certain is that data transmission speeds will increase globally, as wired connections reach unprecedented speeds and wireless technology continues to evolve. It is likely to be faster and more pervasive, and some believe the negatives of an “internet rich society” will actually make us as humans “stupid”, thanks to the trend and need to “Google” everything. Because of the way you navigate the Internet in general, we are always leaping from one piece of information to another, due to the fact that we have unprecedented access to an enormous library of information, despite the correlation between the way we record and access information and the way we think. Access to such information doesn't necessarily equate to intelligence. Looking up a fact, doesn't constitute meaning, understanding or its context, but rather proves that the internet is a tool that we can use to help us learn, not replacing learning itself. The reach of the internet is creeping into countries and cultures that have been segregated from the rest of the world, and therefore it holds the potential to teach us about ourselves, maybe (hopefully) a common ground that allows people to learn and understand each other, bringing about an era of peace and cooperation.