Jon Cox

9/16/01

The Computers True Impact on Our Lives

 

 

            There have been many technological advances that we have gone through, each usually leading to the other. Starting with one of the earliest inventions, electricity, others soon followed. The light bulb, telephone, car and television are only a handful of inventions that did follow this big one, each one having a different function but with all of them significant in their own time and even today. There have been technologies that have built on these originals, to make them stronger, last longer, more durable and overall a more advanced product. One such product that has changed out world of late has been the computer and in recent times, the internet. Computers and the internet have revolutionized the way we work, learn and play in the business, school and household settings.

            In a business setting one of the main goals is to turn a profit. It was said by Tom Standage in the article “The Victorian Internet” that “businesses became the most enthusiastic adopters of the telegraph in the nineteenth century and the Internet in the twentieth.” The telegraph, and later on the Internet allow businesses to try out a new venture, and to seek out new ways to make that profit they wish to make. Such inventions as the telegraph had to be supported in order for a widespread adoption to come about. In order for an item to receive adoption though it has to pay for itself, otherwise the cost of implementing it would never be recovered. In the same way with the internet someone has to make a profit in order to survive, thus the reason Tom Standage said that ever since the telegraph “we have been pinning the same hope on other new technologies every since” to change our world and make it a better place for all. These hopes that computers and the internet would change the business world for people gives way to all the ways that computers and the internet have changed business. When you walk into an office building today you are likely to see rows and rows of cubicles for people to work in, with each cubicle usually housing a computer in which the employee working there can use to type up reports as well as communicate with his fellow employees. Computers in these areas allow for business to have more structure to it, through the use of networks and more communication with others to improve business relations through e-mail and fiber optic connections to other branches of the company. One such area of business affected by this computer and its counterpart, the internet, is stocks. The internet has brought about a way for people not even slightly living near the stock exchange to trade and sell stocks on their own without a broker. In the time of the telegraph stocks were traded in the same fashion as told in “The Victorian Internet,” where you could send a request to buy or sell via a telegram, but this had problems has some would alter these messages as they made their way to it’s destination. But telegraphs were not as mainstream as the internet is today, thus not affecting those businesses with stock quite as much as now. Business’ now have to take into account the consumers who only own a small amount of stock, compared to those who own large sums. With the internet, new business ventures have opened up as well. No one would have thought that you could have ordered an item on a computer and have it sent to your house, but this is just one example of how business is moving in new and different directions. Businesses depend on the computer to do tasks such as keeping track of their profits, losses and other calculations which require manipulating sometimes large numbers. Computers allow for greater creativity when products are designed, with these new ideas being what could possibly make more earnings for a corporation, and transform the industry. Just as in the age of the telegraph, business based on the computer and the internet is changing from its previous form to something new, different and revolutionary.

            Another area that the computer and internet has impacted is in the school setting. Being in such a setting it could be thought of as being half in a business setting and half in a household stetting as it is not quite business, but not quite a home either. The goal is learning, but it is not meant for entertainment. People in a school setting previously had only several ways to be taught, they could be lectured by a teacher, or be trained from a book. Because of these limited options, and compared to the way kids in school today work, a definite distinction can be seen. The majority of the time when a new project is assigned in modern times a student will go directly to a computer in order to start their research and to possibly even begin typing their report or paper. Students going to school during this period have changed the process in which they work through the use of computers by doing the majority of their work on them. Through the use of computers students usually type all of their work if allowed, but hardly anyone uses a typewriter, showing a definite shift from one technology to the next. These kids start and finish these papers on computers when prior to computers and the internet the majority of work would have been done with paper and pencil. A benefit to this work being completely done in typed form is when a draft needs to be changed a person no longer has to retype or redo it completely over, they simply make the change. Once this new draft is printed it looks as clean and professional as the one before it. It was mentioned in the article as well that “today the complaint of information overload, blamed on the internet, is commonplace.” The fact that people say the internet does indeed have so much information is one reason why students in fact are going straight to computers if possible when starting a project or paper. What has truly changed about this school environment though is that the mindset of the students has changed from the idea that everything you need to know is in a book. The impression now is that you do not need books and you can get all the information you require using the internet. While neither of these two thoughts are entirely true now, they still represent how students from previous generations have evolved into the present one.

            The household setting is much more peaceful. Not as much emphasis on work, and more on play. While not all the time, most likely the majority of computer and internet usage at home is for fun and recreation. Both e-mail and chat are popular in this environment, and provide easier and faster ways compared to previous forms of communication. For people living a long distance away e-mail allows for a cheaper way to exchange information compared to pricy phone conversations, and chat among the younger-set of people allow them to talk to numerous people at once in a more organized way than phone conversations. People seem to be fascinated by these new technologies after their initial doubt. It was mentioned by Tom Standage in “The Victorian Internet,” that people were fascinated with the romantic possibilities of the internet, and that even online weddings have occurred, showing indeed how these new forms of technology have affected people’s household lives. Another change that the computer has brought about in the form of leisure is digital music. MP3 has become both a popular and controversial form of music on the internet, but despite its legal problems it has revolutionized the way music is thought of, especially on the computer. People are able to listen to music right from their computer, without having to even have a physical copy of the album. Another form of entertainment, video games are and have been popular ever since computers became mainstream. With such video games out now that can be played over the internet versus other players elsewhere, it has allowed a new way to communicate and compete with others that were not possible before. Despite all these forms of entertainment for the computer, they still do provide a link to work that can be done, especially for those who work at home or are life-long learners and wish to search out information on the internet. Before computers and the internet it was not totally feasible to work at home, and to go to library every time someone wanted to research something could be considered to some extent a hassle. In the household setting though these previous rules have changed, as the communication, entertainment and learning options the computer and internet provides are not offered in any other form of technology in the same way.

            The computer and its counter-part the internet have outright changed numerous areas in which people work, learn and play. People in this world are now able to work in different ways then they were able to before through the use of new forms of commutation as well as different ways to work. In the school setting students are allowed new ways to research and learn, as well as being able to have new ways to complete work. In the household setting though it all comes together as both a way to communicate and entertain. While the computer and internet have certainly not replaced anything, the number of situations they have revolutionized has made them truly alluring pieces of technology.