When thinking about the size and complexity of the internet I sometimes wonder if it can ever be mastered let alone managed. So many users, so many personal computers, mobile phones, satellites, modems all running a truly ubiquitous network. Here I sit, an island unto myself, surrounded by this vast ocean of information. The concept is totally mind boggling even to a veteran internet user such as myself. What then must it be like for someone new to its vast frontiers of information?
At times, I fear my island shores are shrinking and no amount of vigorous sand bagging will prevent it leaking into every nook and cranny of my daily life. I try to curtail the risks of hackers with firewalls, protect my email with anti spam software and limit the risk of virus infection using antivirus tools.
I begin to wonder to what end all these protections serve my needs and how I balance this with the adverse impacts. My computer runs slower, bogged done with bloated software to prevent intrusion, or infection. I have to go through hoops to open up a simple communications port for a game. More time is spent clicking warning pop ups to the extent that paranoia boarders on the edge of going insane.
Managing ones computer in ‘isolation’ is not without risk, but it is less risky and less complicated. In the corporate workplace, much of the headache is removed by the IT Team implementing policy and locking down avenues of potential headache. This level of governance trickles down through small business at varying degrees till ultimately it reaches the self employed and consumer.
It is at this bottom end of the scale that the internet presents itself as both a major risk and major enabler. It is possible to ‘live’ without the internet, but the benefits, advantages and features make it much more a necessity. It enables eCommerce, online stores, libraries, email, file transfer, video on demand, online social interaction and provides a connected state with the overall global community.
Today, there is more chance in some social demographic groups that we are more likely to know Bob in Budapest than Bill across the road. We tend to purchase presents online rather than visit a myriad of brick and mortar stores in the local shopping strip. We prefer the digital delivery of news and information over the internet on demand instead of the daily newspaper. We write and send more emails than we do written letters. Times are definitely changing!
Its true to say that there are those amongst us who apply a choice in the use of all the aforementioned, but the number diminishes as time progresses. We are already witness to the demise of the home telephone being replaced with the more connected mobile phone.
Where are we all headed I wonder? Are we at risk of becoming just an organic node in the evolving technology of the internet? The shape of things to come is most perplexing.
What do you think?