The Internet: It Just Keeps Getting Better!

photo of green data matrix
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Oh, look how far we’ve come since the early 90s when we all got our first taste of the internet. It was cool right?

My first memories of surfing the web take me back to 1996. I remember coming home from school and there it was… our very own family computer. Yup mom had gone out and gotten us a Compaq, printer and a nice new desk for us to set it all up on.  Of course it wasn’t my first time on a computer. I can remember the old Macintosh that we use to fight over at Union Hill Elementary School. Those were the days, going to the computer lab and getting to play Oregon Trail. Back to that magical day, we were excited about the computer– but what made it even more exciting was our first AOL disk, remember those? The good ol’ days of dial up. Waiting to see if you’re going to get through, or if the line was going to be busy.

While I did use the internet for “fun” like hanging in chat rooms and downloading music, I also can remember using it to help me finish a project or two. Today, using the internet to help complete an assignment is not optional– it’s the only option. I mean sure you can go to a library and check out a book or two, but it doesn’t even compare to the experience of surfing the web.

Now that I’ve set the stage.. let’s jump into this week’s assignment an article written by Clifford Stoll titled “Why The Web Won’t Be Nirvana.” —While reading the article today that was written in 1995, I had to laugh at some of the points Mr. Stoll tried to make. So, I want to highlight a few places where he kind of got everything all wrong.

Let’s start with this statement ” The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.” This could not be far from the truth. When we look back on last week’s assignment of digital convergence we see how the internet has replaced the daily newspaper and our daily news. In an article published in June, the Pew Center reported that newspaper circulation is down 11% from 2016 to 2017. While that’s not all attributed to papers going digital there’s no doubt it’s having an impact.

Back in ’95, Stoll talked about computers being pushed into schools like it was a bad thing. Stoll writes, “who needs teachers when you’ve got computer-aided education? Bah. These expensive toys are difficult to use in classrooms and require extensive teacher training.” Funny!! There are students right now who are teaching their teachers how to do things on the computer. I would argue that the use of computers has not only been extremely beneficial, it’s also made learning so much more enjoyable for students.

As I read through the article, another point that Stoll failed to make was how the internet was going to ruin human contact. Sure, phone calls have been replaced with emails and text messages. In person meetings have been replaced with online meeting spaces, but boy being connected to each other has never been so easy.  Perfect example, the use of social media sites. Think about it, before sites like Facebook came around after the high school or college graduations you were completely disconnected from those you went to school with. I mean of course there were school reunions- but you’d have to wait a decade to be reunited. Thanks to the internet you never have to lose touch. When I look at my friends list right now on Facebook, it reflects all different years of my life. There are the friends who I grew up with riding bikes in Lawndale and people who I’ve met along the way at places like the NABJ Convention.

Looking at all the ways we all use the web every day, it’s clear that Stoll was really off base, but maybe you disagree.

Read the article for yourself and let me know what you think in my comments!

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