A little over 25 years ago when British scientist Tim Berners-Lee produced a paper entitled ‘Information Management: A Proposal’, which laid out the basic structure and theory of the internet, it would have been hard to predict exactly how transformative an effect this new system would have on the world. Since this seminal period in the development of computing, our society and surroundings have been shaken up by the seemingly unstoppable force of this global communication network. Here are just five of the ways in which the internet has changed the world we live in. 1) A transition to multi-channel communication
Long gone are the days when people relied on landlines and basic mobile phones to communicate with friends, family and colleagues. Now, thanks to sophisticated smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs, we can speak to people all over the world at the click of a button. From emails and texts to the array of social media websites now on offer, there’s certainly no shortage of communication channels to choose from. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised the way we communicate with others, and thanks to video calling services such as Skype and FaceTime, it’s now possible to see people as we chat to them, even if they’re thousands of miles away.
Internet-based communication isn’t restricted to the home or office now either. Thanks to mobile web and the public WiFi networks operated by specialist providers like Air Angel, it’s now straightforward to keep in touch with people while on the move, in cafes, bars, shops and across a host of other locations.
2) A shakeup in the world of shopping
The internet has transformed the way we shop too. Increasingly, consumers are turning to the web to make purchases rather than heading to traditional brick and mortar stores. According to eMarketer, ecommerce will account for nearly 9% of the total global retail market by 2018 and it will be worth up to $2.5 trillion. Whether they’re after clothes, electronics, music or anything else, many people now prefer the speed and convenience of online shopping.
3) A rise in flexible working
Another crucial way in which the web has changed our lives relates to the working day. Advances in technology have made it easier for people to work at home, and cloud computing has accelerated this trend. Because many employees can access work documents and data away from the office, they don’t need to be tied to their desks to complete their tasks. This has enabled more people to work flexibly and remotely.
4) A transformation in the way we fact find
The web has also had a major impact on the way we fact find. For many people now, the thought of flipping through the pages of a book to get information is almost unthinkable. After all, within seconds they can find the details they’re after online. Reflecting this fact, after 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica went out of print in 2011. Whether people are after directions, recipes, general trivia, medical information or anything else, they can now simply ‘Google it’.
5) A world of opportunity for start-up businesses
Last but by no means least on this short list, the internet has shaken up the world of business by opening up a plethora of new opportunities for start-up companies. Budding entrepreneurs can launch online firms at relatively little cost and they have the opportunity to sell their goods or services to people all across the world if they wish.