One thing that strikes me is how the internet has changed the way I do things – I know that compared to five years ago, I purchase more items on-line than I ever thought possible. My very non-techie wife uses it for email and is an avid Google user – surprised me!
How about you? I’d be curious as to how you would answer the following question:
Could be positive, could be negative – there are no right or wrong answers. One of you who respond to the survey will be picked at random to receive a Scythe Ninja – just drop me an email.
I asked readers to respond to the following question:
The responses were revealing and the breadth of uses is only bounded by imagination and diligence. In broad terms, readers used the internet for communication, gaming, topical information, music, research, learning, purchasing, medical information, productivity and marriage! For some, it provides a lifeline to the outside world – literally a lifesaver.
I’ve arranged the following excerpts into broad categories, although some will overlap into other areas. Even though these are selected excerpts, spend the time to read them all – I think you’ll find them interesting:
I rarely use cache, most of time there are transactions through Internet banking. I use mostly instant messaging and some or other type VOIP for communication (more than any other methods). I reserve tables over internet and pay for parking with internet enabled phone. I insure my car over internet, I get no paper bills anymore and declare my taxes over internet. I do not read paper newspapers anymore, the internet gives much easier and faster way. The online shopping will probably be down to “2 liters milk, one bread
Few weeks ago I even voted over internet [Estonia]. All in all, quite different from things 5 years ago.
Internet completely changed my life; I was a good boy when I first had internet, but after few weeks I started downloading pirated games and mp3, it was the first time I did something criminal! Now I download pirated games but if I like it, I go to the store and buy it because now I can afford them.
The internet has changed everything about my life.
I am writing this while working from home as a manager of a group of
freelance writers for a major large company. The company has more than
47,000 employees, and the vast majority of them go to an office
everyday. I almost never go to the office.
I work from home 100% of the time. I communicate with the writers by IM
and e-mail and the occasional phone call. They deliver their content to
me by use of an online template and that converts their work into XML
which I publish to my company’s web site.
My wife is disabled and this allows me to be here with her and help her
when she needs it and still get all my work done.
And then there is eBay…
I can’t really say that the internet has actually changed my life one
way or another. I’m only 21 and have not known a life without a PC or
even the internet for that matter.
I had a dialup connection in my home
since before I can remember and posted homework questions on bulletin
boards when I was in grade school. I believe my mom was one of the
first 10,000 subscribers to eBay and I have personally been a regular
shopper there since I was 15; I’ve probably spent more money there than
in any other business in my entire life.
I built my first system when I
was 13 and got a broadband connection when I was 15. I shopped for most
of my components online then and nothing has changed in the last 8
years. In the 12 years I’ve had email, the only serious change I’ve
noticed is the amount of spam I receive.
How has the internet changed
my life? It really hasn’t. It shaped my life from the beginning, as I
have been raised with it and probably take it for granted since I know
I have never been what you would call a “social butterfly”, enjoying peace and solitude just as much as the companionship of others…and often more, but the Internet actually grants me the ability to interact with more like-minded people around the world when considering my more uncommon interests – computer overclocking, operating systems and gaming being a few of these, and Firefly being a recent addition.
I have made some friends who are not physically close yet we do get together for the occasional social activity a few times a year; there is a fairly open invitation to others to also join us for most of these weekends. I have also made friends through the Internet who are fairly local, and we get together a bit more often.
I have gotten somewhat aquainted with even more people around the US and the world, many of whom have a standing invitation in my home if they are ever in my area.
The friends I have made that I am NOT likely to ever meet give me quite a bit of satisfaction – I get some insight to the perspectives and lives of those in different societies that I am unlikely to personally visit. Mentally broadening experience right there, though I may take advantage of it less than I could, perhaps, as most of our contact DOES center around our mutual hobbies…which don’t really vary THAT much by national residence. 😉
The Internet has catered perfectly to my unsocial behavior; before the Internet, I would have to go to the mall to buy clothes, go to drug stores to get prescriptions and household items, visit mom & pop stores for computer parts, etc. Now I can get all these things delivered to my front door, and usually cheaper than buying from the aforementioned places. The only people I have to see now are the delivery people.
But it’s not all bad; Email and instant messaging allow me to socialize with other socially inept people, forming our own little community of socially awkward people.
So while the Internet may have made me into a mole. Well… I guess I’m a mole.
The most positive that I can
think of is the number of friends that I have made via the internet and
various forums found therein… the friends that I have made and will make has been
the best effect the internet has had upon me.
I’ve even found a use for it in my surveillance home system. You can have all the equipment in the world, but it won’t do a bit of good if the thief steals it too. After thinking of this, I hooked my system into a computer that is motion controlled and uploads pictures to a webserver in event of activity. The computer then shoots my phone an email with a link to the page, so I can be thousands of miles away and still know if someone breaks in.
Not only this, but I’ll know it with in about 30 seconds to a couple minutes and be able to access the photos from any computer with internet access, which could be at the police station. All this for less then a standard setup with more information left than with a standard system. Many times, finger prints do little or nothing, but pictures can tell a lot more, especially if the thief lives in the local area.
The internet has also led to some other dangers, specifically identity theft. I have a friend who recently was the victim of phishing schemes and in turn got his bank account cleaned out. Fortunately for him, his bank refunded him his money, but it makes me wonder what would have happened if he was with a bank that did not have such great service. Then there is also the headache of viruses, spyware, and SPAM to which many people have had to suffer through.
How often does a person go browsing for something and end up
accidently looking at porn? How often does a little kid go looking
for a new game to play and end up downloading a pirated copy without
having any idea what he/she did was wrong (at what age does a person
discover copyright law?)? How often does the website you’re reading
slam you with pop-ups featuring lusty blondes with assets, even
despite the fact that all you’re really trying to do is read the
Viruses? Spyware? Those Godforsaken AIM “Hi cutie, check out
my profile” messages? For every perfectly legitimate activity the
Internet provides, there’s some scumbag out there looking to make a
buck or have a laugh by misusing it . . . The simple fact that the
Internet is open is what makes it so unbelievably vulnerable, and it
frustrates everyone at some point or another. It’s created headaches
as well as laughs, tears (remember that paper that got deleted?) and
fears (did the RIAA just watch me do that?).
On one hand, the internet has given me a lot of enjoyment (online gaming, and lots of information about everything).
On the other hand, it has taken a lot of time and money with no real end results. I can only gain weight and be less social with every minute just surfing the net (bar chatting to friends you actually know online).
If I weigh up what I have gained from the internet in terms of things I actually use on a day to day basis, I can honestly say nothing. Sure I know a lot about computers, but who really needs this stuff. The end result is that I have gained two things from the internet: Enjoyment gaming, and it has made me Dumber.
3 weeks ago a flatmate (or roommate) moved out and disconnected the internet (it was in her name). We are yet reconnected to the internet in our flat (takes a long time for the telecos to reconnect the ADSL down here [NZ]). The result is my other flatmate (or roommate) and I have a lot of free time and have taken this time to note my self, that we are in fact more outgoing and social, and our habits have changed.
In conclusion: The internet is a source for fun and enjoyment for me, but over the last few weeks I have seen the negative side of being addicted to it. My habits will definitely have changed and I will endeavor to use it less.
Simply, I don’t have one anymore thanks to the f***ing Internet ;(
How has the internet changed my life? It has given me freedom to work from anywhere, shop at anytime, find all the information I could ever need and get in touch with people all over the world. At the same time, the internet has taken away my freedom to be unavailable and burst the bubble of blissfull ignorance.
One big change for me is now I selectively shop. I was a pretty bad impulse buyer, but now I read the reviews and other people’s comments to make a better judgment of my purchases. I have found that several things I would have went to the store and bought I have decided against buying simply because someone has shown the other side that marketing won’t show. That’s not to say that I rely solely on user comments and reviews, but it can help make a much wiser decision.
Not to mention the internet always has what I am looking to buy – brick and mortar stores may not have the same selection. As long as the person buys from a reliable online merchant and is a savvy shopper, buying on the World Wide Web is a very good option.
At the beginning of the year, I found a travel website called
Flyertalk. It helped me learn the ins and outs of various airline and
hotel programs, and also helped me with a few good deals along the way.
With this, I’ve been able to enjoy my travel a lot more, and we’ve been
able to go places on the cheap that we wouldn’t have gone. How about a
trip to Maine from the DC area for $57 round trip for both of combined?
I now have access to the knowledge, views and opinions of people I would never have had the opportunity to contact, for information and conversation. This is of course good and bad – some of the knowledge is vital, some is confusing, some is misleading and some is downright wrong.
The opinions have an equal variability about them, but them we are all entitled to opinions, even if I’m the only one who is right.
I no longer subscribe to a paper or watch the news – I get my news
online. I do most of my shopping online (newegg.com getting most my
discretionary dollars). I research any questions or ideas for work or
leisure using Google. I have taken online classes for college credit.
I use the internet everyday and would be much less efficient at both
work and play without it.
Acted as my detailed doctor when my knee surgeon gave me next to no details
about what he was going to do to my knee and how I would recover and walk
Acted as my all-knowing pharmacist by allowing me to read about drugs that
were prescribed to my grandmother that caused her to shake, when her doctor
didn’t mention anything.
Allowed me read very technical online journals, master’s and PHD theses and
upcoming product briefs to keep me up-to-date in my field of work.
Allow me instant and easy access to the MILLIONS OF PDF DATASHEET FILES and
US PATENT OFFICE FILES so that I can do my engineering job without having a
massive library of books and photocopies all over the place.
Suckered me into the dot com boom.
Biggest way is that it has given me an outlet for the Photography bug I’ve always had. I’ve always like to take pictures, but once I took them they just when into a box, or later on to the hard drive, never to be seen again. After going to London and sharing a few of my pictures with a blog I read regularly, I got to thinking of maybe doing something like a blog, but for Photo’s… little did I know someone had already thought of this, so using the Internet I stumbled across Photoblogs.org.
Through them I found software I liked and my PhotoBlog was born. Since then I’m almost inseparable from my camera. I don’t get much traffic, but 300 or so unique visitors a month makes it worth posting every day or so. Also seeing Google sharing my images with the world is kind of cool as well.
Through sites like “allofmp3.com” I am able to replace CDs I lost in a recent flooding with drastically less expense (especially since the insurance company won’t pay for it). I am able to distribute my own music without assistance from anyone, and directly target my audience at no expense but time. Through the use of the internet I’ve even obtained a lot of instruments that just aren’t easily available in local stores…like vintage synthesizers and guitars, or really cheap Korean knockoffs.
Overclocking! Without the internet I really wouldn’t have learned all about good overclockable motherboards, volt mods, heatsinks, watercooling etc, etc – the whole shebang. I just simply would not be an overclocker without the internet.
Pretty much it boils down to less time wasted on the phone, in the car, in crowded shopping centers, and just piddling around town. I find my evenings more freed up to do things I want to do. More idle time to stop and smell the roses, hang out with friends, or simply be a couch potato. How did I ever manage to get everything done before the internet?
- I rarely buy stamps anymore
- I almost never watch the news on TV or read the newspapers
- I don’t need to go the mall or other stores very often
- To research a new product, I don’t go to stores and ask ignorant or
dishonest salespeople anymore
- I rarely crack open the phonebook, since I can just look at numbers on
- The last 3 games I purchased, I barely played any of the single player campaigns. I jump straight in to online multiplayer
- My phone is VOIP. Screw the overpriced local phone company!
- I’ve probably gotten to know more people online in the last 2 years than
in person (sad, I know)
- If I go a day without browsing the web, I feel like I missed something.
(news, a deal on something, etc.)
- I don’t balance my checkbook much anymore – I just look online to figure
out the balance when I need it
The net has changed my life considerably. It allows me to do research on any big ticket items I may purchase, which my family says I get obsessive with. It’s reduced my phone bill since I moved over to Vonage, but the biggest change would be it allows me to work from home. My car stays parked for the most part and the biggest traffic accident I have run into in the last year is accidentally stepping on my cat as I did my two flight commute to the basement office. I would say though the biggest benefit by far is it lets me have lunch with my two little girls everyday.
At work (I repair copier machines on site), without an internet connection my job is much more difficult. Five years ago, a techie had to carry a whole lot of paper with him; now everything is reachable via the internet.
I’m the only IT guy at my work and we have 37 Windows clients and 3 servers.
Negatives for work related use:
– Co-workers have opened email attachments viruses – we got the Lovebug virus just a few hours after it was released
– We also had the nimda worm get into our main IIS proxy server because back then our local computer service store told us we didn’t need a firewall with a 56k modem connection
– Co-workers have gotten spyware loaded in their work machines which I had to clean – now I have security settings to block most ActiveX threats and they cannot download any files from their client machines
– I have done a service of fixing my co-workers home computers during my lunch breaks for free but I’m getting sick of all their kids getting spyware up the ying-yang that I only “clean out” their systems twice and after that they have to get someone else to do it
– I’ve seen a lot in the proxy client log – my co-workers have visited porn sites while at work, streamed Realplayer music (not anymore since I blocked the site in the firewall access rules), shopped online while at work, check for loans at work, check the news and weather at work, and email personal messages while at work
Well, for starters, it sustains my life.
I moved from a lucrative job in Southern California to the mountains of East Tennessee in 1992 with no job prospects. I quickly drew upon my past tech experience to provide the very first online Real Estate database lookup of Multiple Listing Service listings in the entire state of Tennessee for the local (Great Smoky Mountains Association of Realtors) realtor association. What a feather in my cap!
From there, everything I do is Internet based. I sell on eBay and pay all my bills online. The Internet is now my life. Not a day goes by without some kind of activity that is Internet based that sustains my life. I stay in touch with my kids and grandchildren online, interface with customers online, converse with friends online, get my global news online, read the local paper online, bank online, send my girlfriend flowers online, prescriptions online, computer equipment online, hobby stuff online, etc. Anything I can do online is preferred over physical visits to brick and mortar stores.
I met my wife online.
We had both signed up for the same “Star Trek” discussion board and we started to write each other. For six months we just communicated through e-mail and ICQ, and it wasn’t until I came to the US on vacation six months after we started writing that we saw each other and spoke in person.
Following this, we still used the internet as our primary means of communication, mainly due to the exorbitant international telephone charges I was faced with. About a year since we first started writing, we decided to get married, which meant getting up close and personal with the Federal government in the guise of the INS (now Homeland Security).
Instead of paying an immigration lawyer, we found all the forms and information we needed to sucessfully get me into the US to marry. Following this, we again used the internet to find out the necessary information needed to apply for my permanent residence. When married, we used the internet to find an apartment 500 miles away, then subsequently moved to the mid west where we used online classifieds to find a rental house. Most recently, we used the internet to find and buy a house, completely bypassing the traditional house buying process.
So yeah, you could say the internet has changed my, and my wife’s, lives.
The Internet has done so many positive things for me. First, without the Internet I would not have a job in Water Resources. I finished university last year with a degree in civil engineering and ended up working as a “site clerk” on a high rise construction project, but I had made a website with my resume, projects I have worked on and details about my work experience. A head hunter happened to find it and hooked me up with my current job where I get to do R & D, applications engineering, and technical support for a water filtration manufacturer, which is what I wanted to get into.
Second, without the Internet I don’t think I would still be with my girlfriend. We met at university, but where I went to university and where my parents live is a 6 hour plane trip (with a 8-12 hour stop over in a hole of an airport). I used MSN and Netmeeting to stay in touch with her over the summers when I had to go back home to work – for sure without the Internet, I don’t think we would have stayed together for six years.
Well, for one, I work in the cable industry as a data (high-speed internet) field technician at the moment, so without the internet I would not have my current job – that’s a big notable. I have an AAS degree in Network Technology, so, without the internet, I doubt I would have bothered going in that direction, for it might not even exist. I’ve made friends, I’ve been able to use it as a major form of entertainment over the last five years (especially great for poor college students), and, the biggest of all..I met the woman who recently became my fiancee online!
Information Technology has been my pride, my pain, and my living ever
since. IT got me back into school, back into learning, and literally
saved me from a troubled life that was heading nowhere fast. IT woke me
up to the fact that I had a little geek inside me just itching to get
out to play with stacks of hardware, miles of cabling, and code my own
Since I wasn’t roaming around getting into trouble anymore, I also had
the opportunity to meet the woman I was dreaming of, who is now my
beloved wife and mother of my beautiful baby daughter. It’s been a long,
and strange road, but it’s all roses in comparison to what my future
looked like before I experienced the internet.
The internet WAS my social life for the majority of high school. I met all my friends through a usenet forum that I chatted in. An amazingly talented and diverse set of people frequented there.
I met my wife in person, but it was chats on MSN Messenger that made me fall in love with her. So I guess in a way the internet was a deciding factor in who I married.
The internet is a means for the physically impaired to participate and communicate globally, interact with others on a level footing and gain knowledge at the click of a button.
To be Quite Honest, It Probably has actually saved my life. Being that I’m very disabled (at 40) And for the last 6 years. It has Helped me in many ways. I Found Internet Gaming. That In turn Had me find The Most wonderful group of friends on the Planet. The <[OneX]>Alliance. Folks from around the world who Have become good friends. This wouldn’t have been Possible without the Internet. It Gives me Purpose in life.
I Shop on the internet, saving Tax money when possible. It Has made it Possible to Actually save Money on things I need.
The Internet has also allowed me to Learn MAny things. Like Everything I have learned At Overclockers.com. Its a Gold mine of Information. The internet Has also tought me to Build computers. Something I never would Attempted On my own.
Id have to say, That if it were not for the Internet, I wouldn’t Probably be walking this earth Now.
Reading all the emails I received, I’d have to say the internet is what you make of it – a tool with virtually unlimited boundaries – good and bad.
Thanks to all who took the time to answer – some of the responses led me to new areas! And the winner of the Scythe heatsink, chosen at random:
Mike Hall (UK) – Congratulations!
Reading through the responses from readers, I was struck by the diversity and compelling stories submitted. It lead me to reflect more on my own experience and I thought I’d share some thoughts.
First, of course, has been the gratifying, sometimes agonizing, experience of starting and maintaining Overclockers.com. Now into its seventh year, this labor of love has led to correspondence with readers on every continent except Antarctica, from Argentina through Zaire. I have developed friendships with people I would have never met otherwise and am enriched.
It has been an absolute joy to see worthy products achieve some degree of commercial success based on objective testing. The learning curve I went through (and continue) has been worth the effort.
But perhaps the greatest joy has been the kind emails I have received from readers who have learned from articles we have written over the years – what better reward could I ask for?
As to my other internet experiences, I’d have to say the retailing transformation taking place is nothing short of revolutionary.
How long did it take for Blockbuster to became a major player in video rentals? How long did it take NetFlix? Contrast the two approaches – Blockbuster has to rent/own bricks and mortar and staff each store, NetFlix uses warehouses with pickers working all the time. With NetFlix, you have access to almost every title imaginable, with critic/user reviews and film clips – what do you get in Blockbuster? You get to look at racks of DVDs. Which model would you prefer?
More importantly – which business model makes more sense?
Have you used eBay? If not, you are missing out big time. This is the ultimate classified ad – sell products around the world to an audience of interested shoppers – how cool is that? I don’t doubt that the number of major businesses started through eBay numbers in the thousands. Need a 100 ohm reference resistor? A piece of Murano glass? you name it, the odds are pretty good that you’ll find it on eBay – and possibly at a price that you can’t believe.
Comparison shopping has never been easier with services such as PriceWatch. Whatever the product, there are a number of sites that allow the user to search among various retailers for the best price. Always caveat emptor, but with credit cards acting as the final arbiter (NEVER PAY CASH!), the advantage is tilting to the consumer.
IMHO for almost any business that deals in “standard” non-perishable products is fair game for internet selling. Why buy hard drive “X” at CompUSA, paying extra for their overhead, when you can get exactly the same product for less at NewEgg or Directron? I have not purchased an appliance or computer part (aside from sale items, such as CDRs) in a bricks and mortar store for at least the last four years.
There is one advantage to in-store sales – the ability to “touch and feel” a product. How long will this advantage last? IMHO virtual reality retailing is a technology that has the potential to radically alter purchasing as we know it.
Another key internet enabler is Google – so ubiquitous it’s becoming a verb (“Did you Google it?”). I have found the most obscure things through Google, including a BIOS file for an obscure motherboard, found in someone’s personal website (one hit!). One consistent theme in the survey responses was the ease of doing research on the internet – possible due to efficient, comprehensive search engine technology.
As the internet goes broadband, there’s no doubt that large file transfers will open up a host of new services – we’ve seen its beginnings with music distribution, and Hollywood is quaking and scrambling to protect movie distribution.
The bottom line is that the internet is a transformative technology that still is in its infancy – opportunities for new businesses are limitless and threats to many traditional business models are real and potentially crippling.
Resistance is futile.
PS: John sent this link to me – check it out HERE – Brave New World??