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The Internet

Now We Have the Internet, But Why Do We Need It? 340

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-porn-and-video-games-of-course dept.
ReLik writes "BBC News is reporting on a survey carried out on the statistics of internet users in the UK, 'While the battle for digital access is being won, we now face a struggle to convince everyone the net is worth using' said Professor Richard Rose, of the Oxford Internet Institute. It begs the question why goverments around the world are encouraging everyone to use the internet, but is there really enough of a reason for everybody to need to? Is the internet suitable for everybody? Will it ever be?"
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Now We Have the Internet, But Why Do We Need It?

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  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tyrdium (670229) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:12PM (#7018306) Homepage
    It's an endless supply of pr0n!
    • Re:Simple (Score:4, Funny)

      by Neophytus (642863) * on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:14PM (#7018323)
      Until mummy and daddy catch you.
    • by s20451 (410424) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:25PM (#7018431) Journal
      Several years ago, demand for broadband was basically driven by demand for pornography -- just like the demand for early VCRs.

      Pornography is like the space program, we love to have it, it's hard to justify, and sometimes there are spinoff benefits for everyone not involved in it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:13PM (#7018310)
    The Internet is a medium, being neither rare nor well done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:13PM (#7018313)
    Now We Have the Internet, But Why Do We Need It?

    Somebody post some hot naked chicks to remind this guy why we need it.

  • by ZenBuddha (252412) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:13PM (#7018320)
    We have to have a way to play Star Wars Galaxies
  • by black mariah (654971) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:14PM (#7018327)
    So what DOES the internet have to offer me? It doesn't cook me dinner, take out the trash, or even clean up its room. Screw this, I'm going outside.
    • by HanzoSan (251665) * on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:17PM (#7018354) Homepage Journal


      The internet is quick, you can learn about anything at the click of a button, you dont have to spend hours at the library looking through books,

      Also you can communicate with complete strangers instantly. You get to communicate with guys like me who can tell you how the internet is useful, but I wont cook your dinner.
      • Alright! I can talk to people! Umm... you know, I can do that outside too... this internet thing keeps getting worse and worse...

        ;D
        • Alright! I can talk to people! Umm... you know, I can do that outside too...

          But this "outside" is a very deprived and filtered place. If you wanted the same experience as slashdot at -1, you had to visit a very well equipped mental asylum. Anonymous trolls swinging in trees, crapping on blathering eggheads. That's the good stuff!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        True, you can learn about anything at the click of a button. But how accurate is that information? It may take you hours to find some decently reliable information. Atleast if it comes from a printed encyclopedia I'd give it a little more credit than if you went to Google and and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." It's very aptly named.

        I mean come on. What does Goatse.cx actually teach you about having sex with goats?

        And if you paid any attention when they taught you library search skills, it shouldn't take yo
        • by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug@emaRABBITil.ro minus herbivore> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @08:13PM (#7020789)
          True, you can learn about anything at the click of a button. But how accurate is that information? It may take you hours to find some decently reliable information. Atleast if it comes from a printed encyclopedia I'd give it a little more credit than if you went to Google and and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky." It's very aptly named.

          A printed encyclopedia is great if you want a shallow overview of a subject. But if you want a dictionary of Yiddish, or a transliteration guide, don't bother searching at the North Las Vegas library, or (heaven help you) the Alva library. If you want a intro to an arbitrary programming language, search the net. If you want Victorian potboilers, you'll find more of them at Project Gutenberg then even a midsize university library,
          in a format far more portable then microfilm and searchable to boot.

          What does Goatse.cx actually teach you about having sex with goats?

          Honestly, if you're interested in having sex with goats, you can search a university and find a few articles from doctors and psychologists, or you can search the net and find FAQ's from people who have actual experiance in the matter, complete with pictures. (Hey, you chose the subject.)

          it shouldn't take you hours to find what you're looking for at the library.

          They are more complementary then opposed. There's a lot of scholarly things I'd go digging around my library first. But when looking up the somewhat obscure actress Dana Hill, I can either dig through big indexes to find a few references to articles (in magazines that few libraries archive) and a out of date filmography, or I can hit www.imdb.com and find a complete filmography, and then search around to find a site with a dozen of those articles online.
      • How can the government easily track the interests and communications of it's citizens, if they don't use the internet?
        How are they going to build that detailed profile database [to thwart terrorism/paedophilia/insert topical evil here] on every UK citizen if everyone doesn't join in?
        How is the status quo going to monitor political association of it's enemies and harvest valuable insights and potential blackmail material of it's opponents, without widespread use of the internet and a few helpful pieces of
      • "The internet is quick, you can learn about anything at the click of a button, you dont have to spend hours at the library looking through books,"

        Exactly. The best analogy I can come up with for this is that the internet allows information which was previously 'liquid' to become 'gaseous' so it expands effortlessly and is practically impossible to contain. (Information went from solid to liquid with the invention of the printing press.)

    • Re:Good question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Brad Mace (624801)
      Well, let's just look at where the question is being asked. Anyone else feel silly convincing other /.ers of the importance of the internet?

      Of course, the internet is only useful to people that want to know things, buy things, or discuss things. And there's the boobies.

    • Re:Good question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x&snkmail,com> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @03:48PM (#7019359) Homepage Journal
      "So what DOES the internet have to offer me? It doesn't cook me dinner, take out the trash, or even clean up its room."

      It offers you a method to bypass bureaucracy and human limits: On sunday night / monday morning at 1 AM I got a fresh copy of the forms for the "Application for a Permanent Resident Card [cic.gc.ca]" for a friend who got into a jam whole visiting China who desperately needed it without having to go to Canada Customs and Immigration during business hours.

  • by HanzoSan (251665) * on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:15PM (#7018331) Homepage Journal


    The question is on a website asking us why do we need it.

    Well for one, news, second research, third communication, forth freedom of speech, fifth entertainment, sixth education.
    • Well, the question was whether the Internet is suitable for *everyone* not you or me:

      Is the internet suitable for everybody? Will it ever be?

      So it does make sense to ask the current Internet users. For example in my experience some people will never be able to cope technically as the current level of requirements (PC ownership, stopping worm infections, etc.) are too high.
    • by Zocalo (252965) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:29PM (#7018466) Homepage
      You missed one: Products at discount prices, delivered direct to your door. That can mean "Generic Viagra" if you want, but also everything from books to airplanes, the mundane to the exotic. While, I still get my groceries at the local supermarket so that I know it's fresh and I like browsing for clothing, pretty much everything else I get online.
      • So then the Net is useful for destroying retail and making a population of fat, lazy slobs who don't leave their house. That's great. I look forward to the day when every town in the US is nothing but rows and rows of houses, there are various warehouses on the outskirts of town to service the Net shopping industry, and the only people outside in the sun, getting exercise, and moving around are UPS and FedEX drivers. Long live sloth!!!
      • "Products at discount prices, delivered direct to your door. That can mean "Generic Viagra" if you want, but also everything from books to airplanes, the mundane to the exotic."

        I'd like to expand on this point about being able to get exotic things online. One of the great things about the net IMO is that the 'population' is so large that niche cultures become economically significant.

        The perfect example of this I keep seeing is the non-asian market for japanese anime products. In the past, the market was so fragmented, only in large population centres could you get the stuff you want, and then sometimes for insane prices. If you lived in a less populous area, the local stores wouldn't stock anything because the market is so small it takes forever to move the products and when buying such quantities, the price is driven up quite a bit.

        But all of the small factions of many niche groups are brought together on the 'net so their buying power becomes significant. There are now plenty of sites where you can get a very wide variety of anime products for decent prices. They can stock a lot of them and thus offer decent prices because the community is big enough.

        So basically I'm saying that the internet is important because it allows niche interests to reach critical mass.

        • only in large population centres could you get the stuff you want
          The big win of the Internet is that it can abate the historical necessity for talented people in less-populated areas to seek fame and fortune in the proverbial Big City. We may now be able to reverse the trend toward ridiculous over-concentration of population, and all of the crime, pollution, and other ills that seem to be bound up with it.
  • by spooje (582773)
    Simply put, to give me a job! How could I make money doing web design if there were no web?!
  • Depends on the use (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:15PM (#7018338)
    Some people use TV to watch the Discovery Channel; some use it for MTV.

    Some people use the Internet for research, discussion, and news; others use it for warez and porn.

    Hey, I could take a screwdriver and deside to poke myself in the eye with it... does that mean we don't need screwdrivers?
  • silly question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FoulBeard (112622) <chrisx AT speakeasy DOT net> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:16PM (#7018340)
    Do we need automobiles? How about heart surgery, or any other tool created by humans since the dawn of history.
    The internet is a great tool, and just like other tools it's not neccessary, but it improves the quality of life. Of course it not for everyone.
    • Re:silly question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuperDuG (134989) <(be) (at) (eclec.tk)> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:53PM (#7018633) Homepage Journal
      Sort of bad examples, because automobiles and heart surgery have helped shaped society and brought new advances in the ages.

      Sort of along those same lines the question of "Do we need telephones, cable/satellite tv, etc." Basically making the point that the internet is another form of media delievery. Just so happens that cable/satellite tv is one way and the telephone is usually limited to one person, you have a broad content on demand information delievery service combined with a great communication tool that has standardized itself that for everyone on the internet, it's local.

      So has the internet had a chance to shape society? Not yet, the "children of the internet" are still in college, and still just getting their first jobs. We (the children of the internet) won't be running the world for about 20 more years, you know right about the time the internet stops being cool?

      But it will be a pivot point, when the standard of the internet starts to full replace medium delivery options it will make antiquated, such as cable/satellite TV and the telephone. It's already been proven that you can watch a sitcom on the internet and make a phone call on the internet. When it's standard that everyone has some type of "messenger" and standard voice and visual components, we'll have a valid replacement for the telephone/television.

      But yeah, I do still agree with you, just thought that comparing the internet to something as vital for life as heart surgery or the automobile was a bit not fair to heary surgery and the automobile.

      • I beg to differ (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stewby18 (594952) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @05:52PM (#7019992)

        So has the internet had a chance to shape society? Not yet

        You seem to be confusing "totally dominating" and "shaping". Did radio and telephone shape society? Mail still exists. Did TV shape society? Radio still exists.

        The internet has not replaced everything, but it has significantly altered many aspects of our society. It has vastly changed the nature of communication (heard of email? IM? A few people use them). It has changed the way we get information (could you get instant answers to very detailed, very obscure questions before the internet? No, because as good as reference librarians are, they don't have the sheer scope of details that Google can provide), the way we shop (Amazon? Ebay?), the way buisiness provide information (How often do you call a chain store vs. going to their website for price information, or to get location/hours), the way we get around (Mapquest)... the list goes on and on. The fact that most of these things are household words is evidence that it has, in fact, shaped our society. Not everyone has email, but almost everyone knows what it is.

        I have to laugh at your assertion that the automobile is "vital for life", but that the internet has not shaped society. The automobile allows people to get together more quickly, get what they want more quickly, and generally make the country smaller, and less fragmented into isolated pieces. What does that remind me of? Oh right: the Internet.

        The internet is "just another form of media delivery" the same way automobiles are "just another form of people delivery".

  • by Sunnan (466558) <sunnan@handgranat.org> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:16PM (#7018342) Homepage Journal
    I think that the Internet is needed to offset the damage done by things like television and large newspapers - the "slave mentality" of only taking information in, never sending anything back.

    The reason I love slashdot is that even though the editors fuck up every once in a while (don't we all?) someone else is quick to correct it in the comments. Same goes for wikis, usenet and so on. Everyone can chime in.

    Sure, it creates a lot of noise, but it's better than the slick, mindkilling flow that comes out of the television.

    That governments encourage the use of the net will be their downfall - they can never control it as well as they can control traditional media sources.
    • Television has the disadvantage of number of sources of information. Really, how many stations are there devoted to news of a particular kind. political news, tech news, geek news, sports news... a few hundred at the most. Pare that down to a few dozen (if that) once you see where the news itself comes from.

      So not only are people sitting taking stuff in, they're taking a very VERY narrow polished view of the world in, one that simply DOESN'T have alternatives.

      The net has tens of thousands of news sites. Y
      • The net has tens of thousands of news sites. You can pick your own. You can follow up the history of what's reported on instantly. You can find out the reality all as part of the one medium.

        Right, and the most interesting ones of these are in my opinion the ones that take feedback in, not just serve information out.
    • by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@NosPAm.ColinGregoryPalmer.net> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:32PM (#7018495) Homepage
      I think that the Internet is needed to offset the damage done by things like television and large newspapers... only taking information in, never sending anything back.

      I agree with this. All the jokes about blog about peoples' boring lives aside, the net lets average people try and publish their ideas. Sure 80% of it's crap, but at least people are doing something.

      I love the fact that I can publish a blog and see how people like my writing style. It lets me know without having to write a whole book if I have any talent or not. Try doing that without the net.
    • That governments encourage the use of the net will be their downfall - they can never control it as well as they can control traditional media sources.

      And how would that lead to the downfall of government? Once everybody is on the Internet do you figure they will no longer want their garbage taken our or their pensions or defense from terrorists or negotiated trade pacts or prisons?

      • Once everybody is on the Internet do you figure they will no longer want their garbage taken our or their pensions or defense from terrorists

        I figure you don't need the government for those things, but then again your mileage may vary. I'm also one of those who believe that totalitarianism is a breeding ground for terrorism, but then again, that's just my two cents.

        or negotiated trade pacts or prisons?

        Hey, lack of stuff like the TRIPs treaty is to me the main selling point of anarchy! (Been spending most

  • YES! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kedisar (705040) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:16PM (#7018353) Journal
    It begs the question why goverments around the world are encouraging everyone to use the internet, but is there really enough of a reason for everybody to need to? Is the internet suitable for everybody? Will it ever be?"

    Everyone should have access to the internet. I know there is a lot of bad things on there, but there is so much more good. Wikipedia, Google, all that stuff; if it weren't for the internet, I'd know practically nothing. It makes research so much easier than driving all the way up to the library, sifting through books and magazines and not even finding the right info.

    It allows for fast and easy gathering of information and images, and sharing of all kinds of data (and I don't mean just Kazaa...)

    Of course, we don't need the internet, but, we don't really need anything besides food and water, either.
    • Re:YES! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:37PM (#7018530)
      "..if it weren't for the internet, I'd know practically nothing. It makes research so much easier than driving all the way up to the library, sifting through books and magazines and not even finding the right info."


      First, I want to make a shirt with that slogan =).


      But seriously, if you'll allow me to turn my paranoid rant goggles on, doesn't this allow for the simple erasing of undesirable history, culture, memes, whatever? In many countries, the internet is not exactly a private infrastructure. Governments can and do control access to it, and to some exent, they at least try to control the data on it. Yes, it is much more egalitarian than say, broadcast television. But that is right now. What will the internet be in 20 years? What was it like 10 years ago? While many of us are hoping for The Street ala Snow Crash, I suspect there is a reasonable possibility we will wind up with regionalized AOL-esque services, and a some sort of wasteland like Freenet.


      When governments push anything, it is usually all the better to govern us with. =/

      • That assessment is partially true, in that allows for censorship on a broader scale. But it does this because it first allows for comunication on a broader scale. It takes away the editorial process of having to get your words approved. Sure, we see a lot more typos and BS. On the other hand, it gets the word out a hundred times faster, and while the government can shut down a site, that site can be mirrored, the information can be printed or stored, and it greatly ups the odds of people being able to find
  • by zapp (201236) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:19PM (#7018371)
    Research and communication in general, but here's a breakdown:

    Personal research. Never before has it been so easy to find out if it's normal for your testicles to itch periodically. Not just great for sexual stuff either, it really helped me as a teen to understand social norms, and make me feel less abnormal.

    Consumer research. I no longer drive to kmart, walmart, target, best buy, circuit city, etc when I want to buy something. I hit their respective websites to price check, feature check, etc.... then go to the store I plan on buying from. Not to mention the benefits of sites like newegg.com.

    Communication. Duh. Email is awsome, so long as you can manage the spam. Instant Messaging is awsome. Internet(email/www/IM) to cell phone (sms) is awsome.

    Resource sharing. Via the Internet, work and school I have instant access to countless various Unix/Linux computers and windows boxes. Usually I just leave my work up on a VNC server on a unix box and connect to it from wherever.

    I can certainly imagine life without the net (and it's nice to try it sometimes)... but for computer use, I definitelly feel naked without it.
    • Commerce, the ease of buying and selling using instant transactions on the Internet has provided jobs and spin off companies that support it. The largest and most profitable companies have ties into Internet, shipping, manufacturing, communications, research and development, billing, etc.

      Do we need it? Yes, and with almost all government information going online and accessible to the public, this truly is the Information Age.

      The article should really be called "Do we need Broadband". If you call anything

    • I can certainly imagine life without the net (and it's nice to try it sometimes)... but for computer use, I definitelly feel naked without it.
      That's funny, I usually watch people get naked on the Internet...
  • To communicate about new standards and protocols that will develop the internet further.

    Have you ever thought of the interconnectedness of people in this digital era, while under the influence of some mind altering substance? It's a beautiful thought.

    We don't know why we exist, but communcating must, if not be a reason, then at least a mean to finding a reason.

  • maps.yahoo.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timothy (36799) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:21PM (#7018396) Homepage Journal
    Google.

    Exchanging email with family.

    Finding recipes.

    Reading people's websites.

    C'mon, "who needs the Internet?" is a silly question. The Internet is tremendously useful now (and offers lots of "unproductive" stuff, too -- quotes because the line between productive and unproductive is a mostly useless, fuzzy gray line not worth respecting in the way it's usually used) and will be more and more later on. People survived without it, just like you would survive without any of the foods you like best, or without recorded music, or without being able to read ... handwringing about their "usefulness" doesn't exactly excite me as an important philosophical point.

    timothy
  • This question seems almost filler nonsense. People appreciate choice in the media they use for news and entertainment, communication/connection, etc. Every technology invented to deliver it is still alive in some way, public houses, books, newspapers, HAM, Radio, TV. The internet is just another in the long line on methods to connect. Need it or not, the world will have it and use it.

    mug

  • While the battle for digital access is being won, we now face a struggle to convince everyone the net is worth using

    Not at the prices they charge here. I moved to London and was shocked to find that internet access is a small fortune in some areas. About $2 an hour for a slow modem or $35 for one gig of high speed wireless access.
  • Look at the claims of SCO. If we didn't have the internet, or as quickly available a framework of information gathering, we couldn't all see for ourselves the veracity (or lack of it) of SCO's claims against linux. They paste some code they claim is infringing? We go find the true source of the code within minutes. Not days or weeks, but minutes. Then we can post articles that say "This is the truth" and anyone reading can verify what we say IS true.

    The irony is that the Internet was built on the back of U

    • If we didn't have the internet, or as quickly available a framework of information gathering, we couldn't all see for ourselves the veracity (or lack of it) of SCO's claims against linux

      Dear /. user,

      The internet is based on IP and we own rights to all IP in the world. In other words, SCO owns the internet. Stealing our IP-based internet to check validity of our claims is hence extremely unfair, shockingly unethical and plain wrong. Please send us a sum of $699 to protect yourself from our IP lawyers
  • Who needs it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AvantLegion (595806) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:24PM (#7018422) Journal
    Do we need an endless library, a free press, a cheap and unlimited means of communication, and a vast source of entertainment, all rolled up into one?

    Yeah, who needs that?

  • 100% (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@NosPAm.ColinGregoryPalmer.net> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:25PM (#7018435) Homepage
    Look at the graph. 100% of students use the Internet. Just wait a generation and everyone will be online all the time. Once you start down the internet path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.
    • Re:100% (Score:2, Insightful)

      Good point. These sort of questions may be silly to us, but there are still a lot of older people out there who didn't even hear of the Internet until they were in their 40s. Many of them got that typical dismissive mentality that I'm sure many members of every generation get when a revolutionary new development is brought about that they weren't raised around; my mom is like that. Which is always confusing to me since she and her older Luddite kin also bitch that we don't communicate often enough, yet if t
  • For me the value of Internet access comes down to two (very noble) reasons: Communication, and Information

    I can communicate with anyone in the world over email, instant messenging, and newsgroups -- all free; remember that telcos would charge a fortune if you did this over long distance telephone.

    The access to Information aspect is huge. I work in the Engineering field, and if I ever run across something I don't know it's only a Google [google.ca], Yahoo [yahoo.com], or AltaVista [altavista.com] search away. Anything I'll ever need: historic pu
  • Simple, for exactly the same reasons as people wanted to set up virtual companies on the internet during the dot.con times.

    Gov.uk wants to put all it's services in the net so it can close down bricks&morter offices.

    But they are discovering exactly the same problems as the dot.con companies discovered. People just give up when presented with overly complex and unreliable web services.
  • b2b (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LinuxHam (52232) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:29PM (#7018461) Homepage Journal
    I guess I *am* new around here, because I figured more people here would understand that the b2b uses of the 'net will make all the consumer-level stuff seem like a speck, a blip on the radar, miniscule and insignificant. A million dollars will be spent linking enterprises for every thousand dollars spent by consumers.

    If you're only looking at web pages, you're missing 75% of the traffic that traverses the Internet today.
  • by skinfitz (564041) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:29PM (#7018467) Journal
    I see this all the time - "the internet is for losers" "I dont need the Internet" "The internet is for sad lonely people" - people saying those things simply illustrate their ignorance.

    For starters I've observed that almost all the people who say those things when they say "internet" actually mean "web", and furthermore are basing all of that on the sites that they have seen or heard about. These people also typically do not read much I've noticed.

    Secondly they dont equate email with the Internet.

    Its like the people who say that computers are "useless" and "boring" then you point out to them that they use computers every time they pick up a phone or turn on the TV.

    To say that one does not need the Internet is the same as saying that one does not need communication.
  • It begs the question why goverments around the world are encouraging everyone to use the internet, but is there really enough of a reason for everybody to need to? Is the internet suitable for everybody? Will it ever be?

    Governments want the people to use the Internet for several reasons:

    - Their representatives can go to world conferences and claim "we're the most advanced country in the world"

    - They want to save money on forms (read: let citizens print their own forms on their printers, or avoid having
  • What we get (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wideBlueSkies (618979) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:30PM (#7018479) Journal
    Information at our fingertips.

    That information can be of almost any type or of any form.

    Want to read about the mercury space program, or see the latest pictures of nebulae? Go search for it. In the old days you could have headed to the library and look for this stuff, but they would be unlikely to have Hubble photos released this morning.

    You think your Aunt Tellie has Diabetes? Go search for the symptoms... and support groups too. In the old days tis was a trip to the library, a local clinic, or you had to wait for a doctor's appointment

    Need to find out if someone is selling a 4 barrel carbeurator for your 1974 Chevy Impalla?
    If your local shop doesn't have it, Go search on Ebay or another sales site. If not, maybe do a directory search of auto parts stores in the city next door. In the old days, you were SOL until your local shop got the part

    Hey, there's a new Rush album and DVD coming out. Cool. Head over to their website and see if there's a clip or some photos.In the old days you were lucky to hear the guy on the radio announce that Rush was releasing a record..or did a week ago

    This is all information that can now be obtained in a matter of minutes.

    That's what the net gives us, instant information and knowledge.

    p/g
    • Hey, there's a new Rush album and DVD coming out.

      Curse you, Internet! You've ruined my day for the last time. To the scrap heap with you, modem!
  • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:31PM (#7018485)
    ...and his proposal to give free computers to the poor.

    I remember this township in South Africa that got this big box of computers for their school. Only problem was the electrification project hadn't even begun and there was only one working telephone.

    I'm sure at the time they were very disappointed at not having the needed power and DSL line to connect to JenniCam.com, despite not having a proper sewage system, water purification or lights. Maybe they could have run an extension cord to the McDonald's three miles down the street (no joke, how messed up is that?).
  • by rklrkl (554527) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:32PM (#7018490) Homepage
    The BBC article surprisingly failed to cough up on figures about PC saturation in homes, which surely goes hand-in-hand with Internet access? For instance, I set up a second PC recently at home, but had trouble getting the wireless connection going for a few weeks (a different make of WLAN card fixed that).

    During those few weeks, it struck me how utterly useless the PC was without Net access. I couldn't get security fixes or any other software without actually buying it on CD via mail order or at a store. I couldn't check news, sports, music or computer-related sites whenever I liked and I certainly couldn't e-mail anyone with it (and who sends hand-written letters nowadays?). BTW, if you point out to the average person in the UK that CDs and DVDs cost up to a third less online than they do in UK stores, I'm sure they'd rush to get online :-)

  • by KC7GR (473279) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:34PM (#7018500) Homepage Journal
    The Internet itself has never been anything more than a communications tool to me. A very useful one, I grant you, but still just a tool. If, for whatever reason, the entire 'net evaporated tomorrow, it would mean only minor changes in the way I handle my life and side business. Some examples:

    --Word processors and laser printers work quite well without the presence of E-mail. I would simply start using postal mail more than I do now.

    --Web site? An interesting toy, but is it something I REALLY cannot live without? I don't think so! I would find other ways to advertise my side business. There are enough cheap print mediums specific to my chosen field that I think I could afford a couple of small, well-placed ads.

    --FTP? Handy, but hardly indispensable. Before the advent of the 'net, manufacturers of electronic and computer equipment would maintain dial-up bulletin board systems containing docs, drivers, and other such goodies. I'd simply start using them again.

    What do all three of the above have in common? One word: COMMUNICATION. What does one need to know to be an effective communicator? Good writing and speaking skills, and the ability to THINK CAREFULLY about what you're writing or saying to your intended recipient(s).

    No one "needs" the Internet to develop such skills. What is needed is a lot more focus on teaching such things in the school system, as well as the skills of critical and analytical thinking.

    Cliff Stoll has already written extensively on this same topic (I.E., does anyone really need the Internet). Check out his books 'Silicon Snake Oil' and 'High-Tech Heretic.'

    • Cliff Stoll is a retro-grouch. He's come to the conclusion that if it's all technology-y it must be anti-human, and therefore to be avoided. (Yes, I did read his book. I even owned it for a while, until I decided it was crap and gave it away)

      He's certainly entitled to his opinion, and his technology consumption preferences, but for him to take the next step and say that /I/ need to change my habits is utter bullshit.

      The Internet is a tool. It is my slave. It does as I bid it. I use whatever tools ar
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdotNO@SPAMstango.org> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:34PM (#7018508) Homepage Journal
    The internet has provided a crucial service-- it has prevented many a "Kirk vs. Picard" debate from coming to blows, merely by ensuring the participants are separated from each other. And if the internet didn't exist, what would we do with all those Pentiums that help to speed it up?

    Finally, if we didn't have it, I'd have to go outside once in a while. And interact with real people! And someone could mug me, take my wallet, and use the information in there to impersonate me and open up credit accounts in my name. When I'm sitting at home on the internet, those kinds of things can't happen. I-- oops, hold on. It seems AOL has lost my account and credit card information, AGAIN! I'll finish this post in a sec, as soon as I fill out the form on the webpage they directed me to.

    BRB...

    ~Philly
  • Jack me in, fill me up, all the holes in my brain
    Filled with new lover's joy, and a not-mother's pain
    Show me the world, through another's eyes
    Tell me of conspiracies, and corporate lies
    Give me technical papers, on new giant machines
    Give me heated discussions, on what truth really means
    Give me heart-wringing tales, of a harsh man's young wife
    Give me detailed accounts, of each day of your life
    Show me amazing new worlds, of which I've never dreamed
    And embarrassing photos, when your shorts split their seams
    Show
  • by headkase (533448) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:39PM (#7018538)
    We've only had the Internet since 1969 and the World Wide Web since 1993. Together, they are still fledgling technologies.
    Imagine what the Internet could be used for in the future. The Semantic Web [w3.org] or something like it is set to revolutionalize the Internet of the future. Imagine being able to organise and sort information based on the qualaties - instead of quantaties - of the information (See Microsoft's qualatative search [slashdot.org]). The position the Internet is in today is that most of the information contained in it is quantative in nature, it is stored in a manner that reflects machine organization of information. Qualative information on the other hand is much more useful for performing searches and organizing information, it allows the retrieval of information to be based on attributes rather than specific-word-matches. Going back to the Microsoft search link, using qualatative information as the criteria of the search you could search for a base attribute of "cars" and refine the search using arbitrary attributes such as "sleek form", and "red". In this example, a web page that held information about "Ferrari's" would be included in the "car's" search results even if it did not explicitly contain the word "car" as part of it's web page text - in the semantic web XML markup, "car" would be one of it's attributes.
  • The internet (www) is so valuable because it's largely a medium wherein the receiver selects what they want to see. Rather like being in a very large library with efficient assistants.

    All prior media, from speech and the printing press onwards (including email) have been media wherein the transmitter attemps to force information upon an audience, many tune out.

  • by n1ywb (555767) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:52PM (#7018624) Homepage Journal
    What kind of a dumb question is this? Maybe I should RTFA but the premise boggles my mind. Maybe I'm jaded because I spend so much time in front of a computer with a full time internet connection, but FWIW the Internet is MY FRIEND! I need to look something up, GOOGLE! I need to buy something, FROOGLE/PRICEWATCH/ETC! I need to talk to people EMAIL/IM/IRC/ECHOLINK! I mean, WTF? If it wasn't for greedy nearsighted corporations and governments we could already have broadband in everybodies home and not have to fuck around with archaic technology like telephones and fax machines and phone books and magazines and newspapers. Or music CDs and DVDs. All that shit could be consolidated into one resource conserving blinky blinky brain box and a phat internet connection. But NOOOOOO we've got to lobby congress to BAN FILE SHARING AND WEB SITE COPYING! AND GOD FORBID YOU SHOULD MAKE A PHONE CALL WITHOUT PAYING THE PHONE COMPANY SOMETHING FOR IT!!!! HURRRR INTERNET BAD!! NAPSTER BAD!!!! DURRRR!!!!
  • Diversity makes the world go 'round, folks.
  • The over commercialization and governmental restrictions are reducing its usefulness.

    Once it becomes just 'another media portal', then its pretty much dead as far as I'm concerned. It will be nothing more then a cheap VPN tunnel for me at that point.

    Sad to see, it had so much long-term potential.. its barely an infant at this stage.
  • Network of friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @01:59PM (#7018685) Homepage Journal
    If you use the internet for passive information consumption, you are getting maybe 5% of its true value.

    You don't really absorb information by reading an srticle; the best learning experiences involve interaction and feedback. This is why teachers still exists, even though most information has been available in books for a long time. The internet provides a way to extend and accelerate your network of friends beyond what would ordinarily be physically possible. In a way, snail-mail could do this, but the process of searching out like-minded individuals and communicating usefully was impractical.

    On the internet you can talk with a dozen people who may each have 1/12th of a solution. You can communicate with text, images, and sound. Publishing your solution for others to use is incredibly easy.

    It's also a giant retail store, surplus store, garage sale, and swap meet. Just this week I needed a specialized high-voltage supply for an older industrial flat-panel display. There was no way I was going to find one locally. I simply posted my query to the appropriate Usenet group, and in one day I had someone ask me for a photo of the supply, because they might have one in a box in the attic. I already have the power supply and it works. It might have taken me months to find one any other way.

    The internet is pretty easy to abuse, and just once I'd like to get my hands on the punk who put out this last email worm. It's probably not possible, but I wish there was a way to find a balance between anonymity and accountability.
    • Interesting points. On the internet you can talk with a dozen people who may each have 1/12th of a solution.

      How often do you actually do this successfully? It seems to me that maybe you can post a question on a Usenet group and get 12/12ths of an answer eventually. But probably you're going to get responses from 100 people on the way to getting there, so you had better be good at filtering out useless information.

      What I'm trying to say is that I agree with you that this benefit is there, but it comes at
    • by jc42 (318812)
      If you use the internet for passive information consumption, you are getting maybe 5% of its true value.

      Well, maybe, but I've found an interesting way to convince people who dismiss the Net as pr0n and spam: I send them to news.google.com. I tell them that, while the news stories are interesting, they are mostly what you'll see in the commercial media. But there's something there that's much more valuable: The lists of hundreds or thousands of news sources on each story. I suggest that they spend a l
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:06PM (#7018734) Journal
    Seriously - anyone asking these questions who really doesn't have an idea what the answers are hasn't taken enough time to learn from history, nor has much of an imagination!

    The Internet is, quite simply, an entirely new form of mass communications. Arguments about the "Net being too centered around Americans to be very useful for " are invalid. *Anyone* can publish his/her own web pages once he/she is online! If the Internet currently offers nothing for you, then all you need is enough motivation to *create* some content that IS useful to you.

    Perhaps too many of us have gotten used to all the passive forms of mass media (television, newspapers, magazines, radio) where the "end user" sits down and digests whatever the publisher/content creator chooses to feed you?

    The Internet makes *everyone* a potential publisher with the ability to reach the entire world at minimal cost (practically free in many cases!). Write fluent Japanese and think there aren't enough sites in Japanese? Make some! Can't find a discussion board covering political issues in Zaire? Maybe you'll be the first to offer one to the masses?

    Tell me again why this seems to be of little use to citizens of a country?

  • It's a timesaver (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:10PM (#7018760) Homepage Journal
    Basically the Internet lets you do certain things more rapidly. You can find information, share information, buy and sell goods and services online more rapidly than you can without the Internet.

    While this may sound like a luxury, throughout human history "free time" has been an indicator of wealth. Those who have to spend all of their time on day to day tasks have less time for leisure. Those who have mechanisms (servants, for example) at hand to take care of the myriad little tasks that pop up in daily life therefore have more time to spend doing whatever they like.

    The Internet shortens the amount of time we have to spend on arranging the minutiae of life, and provides the *option* to spend more of our time on pursuits that we find enjoyable. How people spend that extra time (by working that much harder, by watching more TV, by going on a hike, etc.) is up to the individual. But if the duty of a representative government is to help improve the quality of its citizens' lives, then a robust Internet infrastructure is something governments should be pursuing.

    The above points don't even touch on the *potential* productivity gains possible through true integration of the Internet into the fabric of business and government.

  • Friction matters! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerf (17166) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:12PM (#7018770) Journal
    Friction matters! Or, put another way, enough quantitative change becomes qualitative change. (That those two are a dichotomy instead of two ends of a continuum is a persistent fallacy.)

    The Internet may, strictly speaking, not make anything possible that wasn't possible before. So what? Neither did telephones, automobiles, or even writing. People were talking to each other before telephones. People were moving around before automobiles. People were communication information to each other, even across great time spans, before there was writing.

    To diminish the Internet as much as I am diminishing telephones, automobiles, and writing in the previous paragraph is as naive as it is in those cases. By making something easier, more people do it, more often, to more benefit to all.

    I find when my Internet dies, the least tolerable thing to me is that I loose Google, which isn't a public library but sure does help me find information now. Which has in turn increased the quality of my own writing as I can support things better.

    Would we have free software without the Internet? Probably, but it would be a mere shadow of what we have now, because the harder it is to communicate, the more likely the project won't form at all. Hell, would we be having this discussion without the Internet, and would it be anywhere near as large or as comprehensive?

    Boo hoo, there's no "soundbite" for the Internet, therefore it must be useless. Bah!
  • Almost anything (but not everything) can be found on the Internet. Sometimes more info about us that we wanted to make public. A lot of forums and groups are submitted to search engines and indexed.

    Also companys are offering our information for sale, for $100USD I can buy my complete credit, criminal, medical, and court history from many different services. I can even buy a SSN and other information by providing a name, address, phone number, and the money. Big Brother lives, apparently and is selling our
  • Well they're right, most of the Internet is useless, so maybe there isn't an overwhelming reason to get everyone online.

    The web is filled with cute-but-contentless flash animations, news sites who really just promote advertisements, magazine sites who just reprint the same content that's already in their magazines, websites filled with bandwidth hogging graphics but very little content, etc. Email is filled with spam, newsletters we never read but subscribe to anways, and indecipherable messages from our f
  • by reallocate (142797) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:26PM (#7018862)
    >> ... It begs the question why goverments around the world are encouraging everyone to use the internet...

    I didn't know anyone was asking that question, which is based on a doubtful premise.

    But, the Internet is just a big network. By itself, it is empty. The real question is this:

    Is the content made available by the Internet worth it?

    My answer:

    Content created by "old" media and made available via the net is worth it. E.g., having on-demand access to the best news reports around the globe is very much worth it.

    But, content created by "new" born-after-the-Net media is largely useless, consisting of silly and hopeless attempts to mimic other media and with polished spins on old-fashioned bulletin boards.
  • by argoff (142580) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:26PM (#7018867)
    It sorta seems ironic that the government is promiting internet usage, because IMHO the the most overwhelming beneficial purpose is to bypass obsolete and bad government.

    Be it unethical copyright imposition, overbearing controlls on finances and money, censorship, or myrad of other obselete rules from anything to gambling to free anonymous speech. It seems to me that the internet is the best bet to bypass restrictions imposed by poor governinment the world over.

  • by baywulf (214371) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @02:45PM (#7018971)
    We need the internet so we can discuss about whether we really need the internet.
  • Which means that it is probably doomed.

    However, on the off-chance that ten good geeks can be found, thus appeasing the Net Gods, we need to think about what the Internet actually is.

    • First, it is a means of conveying information in bulk to one or more destinations, without blocking the carrying line.
    • Second, it is a means of allowing a user to "see" many information sources, without having to be aware of the physical locations of those sources.
    • Third, it is a means of prioritizing data streams, based on
  • Changing purposes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gothicpoet (694573)
    The Internet used to be by and for the technical user. Those days seem to some to be gone, but I think more realistically the Internet has simply grown to a huge extent. With that growth has come a vast new group of interested parties.

    "Why do we need the Internet?" isn't a simple question anymore. There are many many different answers to that question depending on who it's put to.

    There are many more uses than there used to be. There are many more users and as a result there are many more useful reso

  • by KD7JZ (161218) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @04:17PM (#7019489)
    There are those who want to learn and do throughout their lives. They want to be something other than their 40 hour a week job. For those people the internet is useful. Just now, I needed to find out how to set up a bridge on a mandolin. My local library _might_ have a book on it, but the libary is closed today. But I found what I needed.

    Those who just want to watch TV don't need the internet.
  • Do I need the net? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Sunday September 21, 2003 @06:07PM (#7020060)
    Not technically, but there are a lot of things i don't need that i'm much happier having.

    Yesterday a friend of mine was in town and wanted to hang out with me, so she had her boyfriend IM me and give me the phone number where i could reach her.
    I realized that i hadn't been to the club we were going to meet at in quite awhile and wasn't sure i remembered how to get there, so i did a search on the name and got the address.
    Then i went to mapquest and printed out directions.
    Then i IMed my girlfriend to tell her i was going to be leaving work a little early and heading off to the club, so we needed to make the nightly call earlier than usual.

    Then of coruse there are the more usual activites of checking up on news, paying bills, reading reviews of the newest games, chatting with friends, looking up random tidbits of information, etc.

    Most of that stuff could technically be done without the net, given the necessary other resources, but the net sure made it a lot easier and more convenient.

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