written by: Baby Rani•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/14/2008
The Internet is the answer to the search for a global connectivity medium. Because of the Internet, the world has shrunk, cultures have evolved, changed, and now in the 21st century we are in the midst of a global upheaval.
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The Internet is the network of computers all around the world, which store and exchange information. It started as a research project commissioned by the U.S. Defense Department in the 1970’s for linking its computers across different bases. As the research progressed, the Internet expanded beyond the control of the U.S. Defense Department, linking many major universities. Slowly, corporate organizations realized the value of Internet and participated in the building of Internet. The major breakthrough came when Tim Berners-Lee created the WWW ( World Wide Web), a user-friendly interface using html (a very easy language used to link web pages). The World Wide Web was formulated to be a free medium for people to interact, gain and share information. The Internet as such refers to the interlinking of computers, but now the Web has become synonymous with the Internet due to its immense popularity.
At first, the corporations used the Internet as an information disseminating platform for their products and their company as such and people-to-people interactions were at the minimum. That period of web technology is called Web 1.0.
More and more people started investing in the Internet; numerous websites opened. Soon, financial transactions started taking place over the Internet. This newer web technology is now termed Web 2.0. But with many developments in application software, hardware upgrades and networking technology, social interactions started, with the e-mails, chat rooms and so on. This created an Internet boom as never before, as almost everybody wanted to be connected to the net.
These technological advances have resulted in making the Internet an unprecedented phenomenon, heralding the concept of the Global Village, as now practically anyone at one end can be connected to the other end of the world in no time.
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Social Networking Culture
The social networking culture started with chat rooms and e-mails. HoTMaiL, created by Sabeer Bhatia, became a rage as it provided a new and extremely fast means of communication. The concept of chat rooms was introduced by AOL and then followed up by Yahoo and other sites. In chat rooms, people from all over the world can exchange ideas by text chatting through computers in real time. Then the search engines, news groups, forums and discussion rooms started appearing in the web, linking all kinds of people into it. Now we have videos, photos, voice chats, online sharing and much more.All these have led to an information explosion as details about anything from food recipes to atom bombs are just a click away.
These technological advances in the Internet have created a new global culture and have changed everybody’s perspective. The Internet culture has explored unknown paths and has led to educational, cultural and psychological revolutions. New vistas have opened up and age-old traditions are collapsing all around the world. Internet technology has raised the level of awareness to hitherto unknown levels. Creativity among the masses is also on the increase, as now anybody can create anything from music to graphic games using the freeware available over the Internet.
But this new technological revolution has its downside too. As people are becoming more connected to this virtual world, they are slowly losing contact with reality. As Internet Addiction soars higher, people are finding face-to-face communication difficult and cumbersome. Too much information has resulted in the mindless cluttering of the brain with useless facts and figures. Malicious virus programmers and hackers exploit the freedom of Internet to ensnare people and cheat them out of their personal information and money. Though several organizations have sprung up now to regulate the Internet, it is difficult to control all the aspects of this virtual world. Thus it is in the hands of the user to safeguard his/her personal details while exploring this awesome new world.