Since the dawn of time there have been great achievements that have helped mankind progress to the next level of a species. The first things you think of would of course be the wheel and fire. While these are very important in our history, now we must think of the things around us that would and will be useful in our future. Things like the automobile have grown to be very important and many rely on them for their everyday travel. But there are a couple other things that many people don’t even think too much about yet they play a giant role in our everyday activities.
These key items would be computers and the Internet. Although you don’t realize it all of the time, they are the sole things that keep you going. What makes it so when you turn the key in the ignition of your car it starts? That would be a computer. What controls when the traffic lights change? That would also be a computer. When you go on your computer at work what do you use? You use the Internet. Everyone uses them; it’s just that you use them so much you don’t think of it as often. Other items that play smaller roles are items such as satellite TV and cable TV.
The world has changed since these machines have come along. It’s almost scary to stop and think how much we rely on them on our day-to-day routine. So you must realize that with this advanced technology there are pros and cons. Just sometimes the cons are hard to find.
Development of the Computer and Internet
The computer is an invention that has shaped and molded a generation of people from all over the world into one big community. The Internet has helped bridge giant gaps in communication and business alike. Both of these wonderful creations are now what the things you use everyday, use to keep them going. This fact can be seen as both a positive and a negative to how technology plays a part in everyone’s life. No matter how you choose to look at the computer and the Internet, they are both very important pieces of both our history and our future.
The first electronic digital computers were created to assume the position of giant calculators to figure out calculations needed in building weapons for World War II. A man named John P. Eckert built the first of these machines in 1942. His machine was called the ENIAC or the Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator. ENIAC used 18,000 vacuum tubes, used about 1,800 square feet of floor space, and consumed around 180,000 watts of electrical power. This was a very hard to work with and not very user friendly but it worked with the programs it was built to work with.
Close to 30 years later the first actual use of an Internet type network was used. Originally in 1969 the Internet was developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under a program titled the Resource Sharing Computer Networks. It was created so that military sites could maintain communication around the world in the event of a nuclear attack. Then when the cold war ended the Internet was kept around for basically the same reason, it was used as a long distance communications tool. Much like a phone would be before its time. The Internet stayed a pretty private thing until in 1989 a man by the name of Tim Berners-Lee helped to create the World Wide Web. His idea took “hyper-text” and extended its abilities not only within documents but also from different computer sites. His creation was released as the first ever web server. In 1992 there were over 1,000,000 hosts for the Internet. In the web’s third year it had a growth rate of 341,634%.
That was just the beginning of what has come to be a new way of looking at things. Computers and the Internet now connect almost the entire world. And to think that this was how it all began.
In recent years there has been a lot of controversy over whether or not to use the Internet as a classroom for learning. The debate is very fueled and both sides have their own good points.
As with everything in life there are pros and cons. We’ll start off with the pros. They are as follows; students get enjoyment from using computers to learn, without knowing the students will soon no longer consider a school subject so boring, most of all since sending messages play a very important part in working on the net students will learn valuable social skills. With that last point in mind, the Internet can be viewed as a tool for socialization.
Now we shall look over the cons on the subject. First of all there is fear from teachers of many things like job loss, new technology, and vulnerability. The next is the desire to hold onto traditional teaching methods where the teacher is the central emphasis for the class. The last main con to Internet learning is that the teacher can never really be sure as to whether or not the person taking the test or answering questions is really the person registered for the class. These are all very important points.
Along with pros and cons there are also advantages and disadvantages in the arguments over Internet learning. One of the first advantages that come to mind is the accessibility of the Internet. You don’t need to be a whiz kid to search the net. Programs are getting more and more user friendly every day. That being said it wouldn’t be very hard to learn to use the Internet as you would a schoolbook, and if you have trouble there are millions of people online who would be willing to help you. One of the teacher’s advantages would of course be the wide spectrum of authentic material available on the net. Also with such a wide range of information it helps for everyone to find something he or she likes. Students will also gain the important skill of separating the relevant material from the false information.
The disadvantages are there also, its not a one sided argument. There is very much a lack of organization on the net. There is no coherent structure. There is in fact so much information on the net that at some times it can become overwhelming. Finding some topics on the net can also be a task in itself. At the same time some topics will have you buried neck deep in information making it important and almost a necessity to be able to weed through and find the important information. Since it is easy to put up your own website now-a-days many people with very little information on subjects take up space and make clutter when trying to find certain needed info. The speed of the Internet can be a weighty factor in learning anything over the web. With the numbers of users rising every day the Internet is becoming more and more congested. This would make limited lesson times a problem due to the lag time for messages to be relayed. Downloading files and graphics to be used can become a tedious job and to try and squeeze it into a lesson would be a hard task. From a teachers standpoint the vast array of information on the Internet is a turnoff. Much of the info is not relevant, desirable, or even appropriate for students’ studies. There have been debates over controversial information found on the Internet such as racist propaganda and pornography, and the major argument was that you could find it in everyday life also if you just looked around. But you wouldn’t find this info in a classroom or a university. Many teachers also say that yes, the Internet should be used for teaching purposes, but it should be integrated with the school curriculum and brought into the classroom. The last very big problem with the Internet is the ability for students to plagiarize. With modern software and the ease of cut and paste the temptation for students to copy entire works is very much there.
The argument over Internet learning will probably go on for another year or so. Both sides have very good points and will keep arguing them until they reach an agreement. There are many people who think we should move along with the times and start using the Internet to its full ability. But there are enough who want to stay traditional and keep kids in the real classroom to keep the computer generation from taking over. There are already colleges over the Internet, who knows what’s next. Maybe the next generation will never have to leave their house to learn; maybe they will roll over turn on their laptop and be at school. If only it was that easy now.
Impact of the New Media on China’s Press
The Internet can be anything you want it to be, there are basically no rules or boundaries to be found when dealing with the Internet. Some see the Internet as a means to make money, some see it as a way to connect, the people of China however see it as their only freedom of speech. They see it as a place to discuss politics and see how life is in other countries. In the last few years China’s use and availability of the Internet has dramatically increased as it has in most other countries. This makes a new problem for China’s govt. to watch over and try and control.
With the increasing popularity of Satellite and Cable TV a new media has risen up in China’s communist territory. The official government controlled news stations are quickly becoming outnumbered by commercial and overseas news. The Internet is becoming where everyone goes to find anything.
For however long anyone can remember propaganda authorities controlled all China’s “media”. Their “media” consisted of a couple newspapers, some magazines, and a few broadcasting stations, all run by the government. Today in China it is very different that what it used to be. There are over 2,000 newspapers, 900 TV stations, and over 90 million cable TV users. Along with those there are over 240, 000 websites. More than 26 million Chinese Internet users spend at least one hour a day on the net. Nearly 63% use the net for their news, about 24% of adult users and 40% of young users visit overseas websites. Overseas news outlets do not need to be approved by the Communist Party’s propaganda departments.
In the past the government found it easy to manipulate what people watched by limiting them to only one news channel. Besides news the program was used to put across the political parties propaganda campaigns and political mobilizations. But now the program is losing viewers rapidly due to the other entertainment available. When there was only one single source of information the people had no way of knowing whether the stories were true. Until the new forms of media came to the people, the propaganda authorities effectively controlled the flow of information. Now with the Internet the public no longer relies on the official information to make their own decisions and opinions. Instead when something happens, they research it to see if it was real and what all the facts were.
Until recently the flow of radio broadcasts was stopped by jamming the waves. And it was illegal to own a TV antenna. Anyone who wanted a fax machine had to register it with the Telecommunications Department. Today you still have to register your fax machine but not your computer or Internet. The radio broadcasts are controlled by a frequency licensing system. But any one who wants can start their own webcast and listen to them on the net.
With the emergence of these new forms of media in China, it has brought a new life to the people. A clear life where they can see what is really going on and not have to rely on the propaganda machine that runs their country. They now have ways of getting their voices heard and not just in their community, or there country for that matter, they can get it heard all over the world. This just shows how much importance the Internet has and what capabilities it has.
Terrorists Use the Net Too
The same advantages that the Internet is so famed for bringing to the general public is also being used by those we fear the most. Yes that’s right, terrorists use the net too. They use the Internet to encrypt their plans and even sometimes-full maps. The iDefense director of intelligence for special projects Ben Venzke stated “the internet and e-mail provide the perfect vehicles for these groups to communicate with each other, to spread their message, to raise money, and to launch cyber attacks.” A recent report from U.S. officials shows that terrorists’ use of the net is widespread. Government and Private security firms are doing all they can to keep up with them, but as technology advances the struggle gets harder and harder. Both the government and private parties agree that the web is widely used by such terrorist groups as Hezbollah and Hamas. These organizations use the net for propaganda and to exchange information. Matthew Devost has said that the groups working on the net could not only attack the Internet economy but also power, transportation and other systems that rely on information on the web.
Terrorists are getting creative with how they use the web. Pretty much wherever you can send an e-mail with audio or graphics is fair territory for terrorists. Also something called Steganography, which is putting encrypted messages in electronic files, is becoming widely used. A government report showed that they have been hiding pictures and maps of targets in sports chat rooms, on pornographic bulletins, and on web sites. And even though government officials are aware of the Internet activity there is nothing they can do. First we live in a country with free speech and they are just practicing their right. The other reason officials cant do anything is that it is impossible to track where a website was started and who posted what, where and when.
So until we find ways to track Internet use the terrorists have the upper hand in this fight. Darn us and our right to free speech.
The newer trends on the web are Internet businesses. They are cheap to run, easy to maintain, and it doesn’t take a genius to start one up. Businesses like Amazon.com and Cdnow.com don’t have a single real storefront but they make more than a lot of the normal department stores. One of the reasons people go online instead of the stores is to get away from the crowds. There aren’t people pushing and shoving to get in line in your own home (hopefully). A lot of the online stores have better prices than those you would find at a real Mall Type store. Some of these online shops don’t last very long at all, but the lucky ones are still staying strong.
Along with companies who only have virtual storefronts, many of the big companies have there own online shop. Many of these stores offer in-store pick up like Circuit City and Best Buy. Online you can also compare features of multiple products to figure out which one is better for you. The online stores are just a great convenience for those who either don’t like to go out shopping or those who just cant.
Internet Shopping also gets crazy around holiday time, especially Christmas. Many stores offer big deals like free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas morning.
The company execs are cashing in on the virtual world. They have jumped on the bandwagon with the youth of the nation and found a new way to market their much-needed products. I speak for everyone when I say thank you to the Big Wigs.
In the end you see what a great role new media has brought to the world. It has brought a voice to the people who could not speak. It has brought new ideas into the classrooms of the future. It has brought more money to the corporate money mercenaries. But it has also helped terrorists. You know you just can’t win them all.
Thirty years from now I know that people will look back and see that things changed for the better, that our new forms of technology brought us all closer, and that nerds who thought computers would solve problems and not make them were right. Hopefully the Internet will merge all barriers and break down walls that are starting to decay.
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