The Internet Effect: How has it affected You?

Delia

Commonly known as the Internet, the world?s largest network is used extensively throughout the world today. Since its creation in 1983, the Internet has continued to grow in popularity and use as a commercial and private communications medium. Millions of people throughout the world use the Internet in a variety of ways, ranging from personal conversations to on-line shopping. According to a survey compiled by Nua Ltd in 1999, the number of Internet users rose from 26 million in 1995 to 205 million in 1999, an increase of almost 700% (Nua Ltd)! With such an explosive increase, how then has the Internet affected us personally, and how has it affected the way we do business? The answers to these questions include changes in the way people obtain information, interact, work, learn and conduct business.

Given the Internet?s original purpose is to share information, it is no wonder that the most important asset of the Internet is the wealth of information that can be found on the Internet (Maney 3). Information previously found only in libraries and encyclopedias is now available on the Internet; in addition, news, weather, and movie listings are also made available on the Internet. Internet users constantly remain informed of the world around them by reading news from the New York Times, USA Today, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times and many other newspapers found on-line. Even those like myself who are far away from home can keep in touch by reading local newspapers published on the Internet.

Along with the vast amount of information, the Internet also provides almost instant sharing and distribution of information. Through the use of electronic mail, people all over the world can ?send information to far-away places cheaply, easily and in great volume ? much more than any medium before it? (Maney 3). This form of communication known as email is the most widely used tool of the Internet today.

Another invention of the Internet is the chat room. From within a chat room, people make friends with others throughout the world and share information with one another in real time. Because of email and chat capability, employees can work together without requiring that everyone work in the same place or even at the same time (Maney 4). On a more personal level, email and chat allow families and friends to stay in touch, keeping relationships intact. Being an international student myself, email and chat rooms have greatly benefited me as they enable me to constantly keep in touch with my family and friends in Singapore.

The educational community has also taken advantage of the opportunities the Internet offers. Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous growth in both the number of distance education courses offered by colleges and universities, and in the enrollment in those classes. Internet based classes allow students to watch, listen, and exchange ideas with educators and other students who may be miles away. With on-line education, people learn independently and at their own pace. Such convenience allows learning to take place virtually anywhere and at any time. Busy working adults are now taking classes in the comfort of their home without having to attend regularly scheduled classes on a college campus. Online education also provides people from rural districts the opportunity to have an education without having to travel long distances.

Besides supporting on-line education, the Internet has also made our lives immensely simple by allowing us to do countless tasks even in the middle of the night. Using the Internet, people find jobs, send electronic cards, shop, make airline and hotel reservations, execute stock trades, and even pay bills online! The Internet is thus a virtual market place where people can, at the click of a button, select products, place orders, and pay using a secure electronic transaction. All of this ability has made conducting personal business convenient and easy, and enables everyone to complete many tasks that previously would take weeks.

With the increasing popularity of people shopping and purchasing goods online, the Internet has created ?new ways of doing business? (Maney 4). Realizing the potential of the Internet, many companies have started to advertise their products and services on-line. By marketing their products and services on-line, companies are able to constantly update the site's product catalog and inform buyers of any changes. Companies, especially new