Starting as a static network designed to shuttle information and messages between two terminals, and maintained only by expert coders, in the past thirty years the Internet has truly changed the world of communications. As summarized in a Cyber Security Intelligence post, here are the ways the Internet has transformed our lives:
- Search engines: By entering keywords searchers can sift through billions of websites and find information in seconds. While Google is the foremost search engine (becoming a verb in the process) others are Yahoo, Bing and Baidu.
- E-commerce:Online shopping to a large extent has replaced or supplemented brick and mortar stores. Consumers can order online for home delivery or curbside pickup - more than a convenience during a pandemic.
- Social media: Websites have become the media of choice for sharing photographs, videos and messages ranging from holiday greetings to political manifestos. Facebook alone had over two billion monthly active views in 2019.
- The "Internet of Things": More and more home devices are connected to the Internet, often through virtual assistants. The downside is inadequate attention to security can lead to increased hacking.
- Offices: Even before COVID-19 forced many organizations to work remotely, high speed Internet connections gave workers almost instant access worldwide. Video conference calls and virtual meetings have replaced in-person gatherings. Most communications and data transmissions now take place electronically. Computer data processing speeds up complex tasks.
- Love and marriage: Dating apps and websites make it easy to meet online - but false information can lead to tragedy.
- Streaming: Using physical media to transmit music and film has largely been replaced by streaming through TV, tablets and smartphones.
- Email: The ability to send instant messages has become the most popular form of communication - although commercials and spam far outnumber worthwhile messages.
- Smartphones: Not just for telephone calls, they're used for streaming, reading, emails and watching films.
- Online banking: Used for money transfers and bill payments without regard for "bankers hours" or mail.
Needless to say, there are negative effects - too much information and disinformation, online stalking and bullying, crime and cyber terrorism. We have to learn how to handle the bad with the good.