Why the Internet is the Most Useful Invention of our Generation
The Internet is the most useful invention of our generation. The accumulated effects of the Internet include significant contributions in the areas of education, the creation of jobs and furthering of professions, and an exponential increase in the amount and variety of entertainment for leisure time. It is the intent of this paper to evaluate the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of the Internet in the areas of education, professional and leisure activities.
Advantages of the Internet in Education
There are a myriad of contributions the Internet has made to education, in addition to the many innovations occurring today in the context of individualized instruction. The development of e-learning management systems for example, which can unify an entire semesters' worth of work together into a sequential, well-defined series of steps, has shown significant potential in providing students with long-term learning motivation (Paul, 251). These e-learning systems have also set the foundation of individualized learning plans having a high degree of autonomy, mastery and purpose engrained with them, further setting the foundation for long-term learning motivation and development (Paul, 252).
The Internet continues to be instrumental in bridging the Digital Divide between those students who can't afford to relocate or attend classes in person, and instead attend online. This shift to a more egalitarian and open approach to providing courses is having a disruptive impact on the courses offered from such world-known educational institutions including University of California, Berkeley, Stanford, MIT and others. Many of these courses are offered free of charge and only require access to the Internet. In recent media reports regarding an artificial intelligence source offered in this format by Stanford University, thousands of people signed up and attended for free. The Internet is a very strong catalyst of positive change in global education as a result. Of the many innovations from a learning standpoint occurring today, the ability to tailor learning programs to the specific needs of students through a technique called scaffolding shows significant potential as well (Najjar, 37, 38). Scaffolding is the use of online applications to create a very unique and customized experience for students. These and many other innovations have made the Internet indispensable in assisting students attain their educational goals.
Disadvantages of Internet in Education
The distraction of social media sites including Facebook and its ubiquitous membership throughout junior high, high school and colleges throughout the world have served to derail even the most promising and disciplined academic career (Bernoff, Li, 40). The ability of social networking application developers to create such compelling applications and attract users to spend hours and hours on them is a testament to how quickly the usability and navigational aspects of application development is progressing (Bernoff, Li, 39). Another significant drawback from an educational standpoint is that Google and the many sites with freely available research are making the task of learning secondary to the ability to excel in advanced search strategies. A person who excels at searching across the Web including having access to advanced databases and other sources of information can easily claim expertise in areas that they may not have actually spent tens or even thousands of hours on. It is easier, given the ubiquity and depth of applications available for searching and classifying content, to gain a very deep level of expertise fast, despite having any formal training. This is a downside for education as students can literally cram the writing of a term paper into four or five hours of concerted, excellent search and secondary research online when professors may have assigned a month of in-depth analysis. As Google experiments with content aggregation tools and smaller companies including MuseGlobal seek to also streamline contextual search, students will soon be able to gain a massive amount of data aligned to a specific topic, in effect creating an entire semester's worth of secondary research in the span of just a few well-placed queries. No longer will students need to create their own taxonomies to organize their findings, search engines and software will do that for them. The net results will be the ability to portray a depth of research that may have been done extremely fast, when in fact mastery of a given subject through concerted effort is needed.
Advantages of the Internet in Jobs and Professions
This is the one area of society that the Internet has received the greatest levels of investment and focus as entrepreneurs and enterprise companies alike seek to create technologies, networks and platforms that can translate activity and information flow into profits. Of the myriad of activities in this area of society today, the most compelling in terms of their use of the Internet is the development of public and private trading exchanges, automated supply chain management networks that stretch across the world, and the ability to create a high level of communication and collaboration throughput an enterprise. One company in particular has shown the full impact of the Internet on their operations is Toyota and their reliance on the Web as the infrastructure of their Toyota Production System (TPS) (Shook, 32). The TPS is one of the most advanced supply chain networks globally and has successfully implement cross-supplier communication and collaboration, in effect creating a global knowledge-sharing system (Dyer, Nobeoka, 345). Toyota reports this system has now been able to lead the company on a transition from competing on price to relying more on knowledge and the value gained by information sharing. Toyota has been able to drastically reduce the level of incomplete shipments and also has increased inventory turns as a result of relying on this approach to unifying their supply chain suing the Internet as its foundation (Dyer, Nobeoka, 361). All of this has ben accomplished as a result of using the Internet and a series of knowledge-sharing applications to streamline their overall supply chain management and planning system.
Disadvantages of the Internet in Jobs and Professions
The loss of productivity based on social networks, online gambling, and the use of the Web for surfing to sports sites and those of personal interest during work hours is perhaps the greatest productivity drain enterprises have seen today. The main disadvantage is that tendency of people at work to rationalize in their minds that posting to Facebook regarding an interesting article or video is actually making a contribution to their companies (Bernoff, Li, 38). There is also the massive amount of time taken on gambling, news, shopping and other social media sties including Twitter, Foursquare and others (Bernoff, Li, 42). The greatest drain on productivity today is the Web, specifically it's misused for entertainment, shopping or gambling, in addition to a myriad of other personal tasks that people don online every day from work.
Advantages of the Internet for Leisure Activities
In addition to the investments made in applications, frameworks and platforms for the development of enterprise applications, there is an equally high level of investment being made in all forms of entertainment and leisure-based applications that use the Internet as their foundation. One of the most pervasive is Netflix, the online movie service that includes the option of also sending the movies via packages to homes and businesses of its customers (Bassamboo, Kumar, Randhawa, 1532). Netflix is the first entertainment platform entirely built on open-source Cloud computing-based applications and components (Bassamboo, Kumar, Randhawa, 1534). This has translated into a very low cost per user to support and serve, in addition to a very flexible and agile delivery model. Netflix lessons learned are also driving the development of entirely new gaming and sports-based applications as well.
Disadvantages of the Internet for Leisure Activities
With any Internet-based application, whether for business or leisure, the bandwidth issues and their impact on performance are very significant. The user experience can become unacceptable if there isn't enough bandwidth to support the overall performance of an application. For any consumer, these issues need to be weighed against the value of the gaming experience. In addition to these performance issues, more and more games are linking to Facebook, which has a business model entirely focused on capturing as much personal data about their users so they can perfect their advertising model (Bernoff, Li, 41). The role of social networks is that of content and personal data aggregator, and due to this focus of their business models, they choose to capture and use as much personal information as they possibly can. This translates into any gamer or person watching videos giving up way more about their personal habits than they realize, as the frictionless sharing in Facebook will automatically show everyone on a timeline what a person is watching. Users need to be vigilant about the settings in gaming and leisure applications to see what sharing attributes of applications are set.
The Internet is the most useful invention of our generation due to the many factors mentioned in this analysis and a myriad more. With…