Group 1: More The Same (as Daniel's allocated)
The Internet has continued to change the world at a steady pace for the last ten years, although not as rapidly as some people believed.
Effects on the quality of life
The Internet is a tool that has helped the sharing of information, but the grunt of work is still done by humans. The processor speed has increased to the current standard of 128 gigahertz per second and most PCs have about 16 gigabytes of memory. After a long battle, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)'s 128-bit PC platform is now the market leader, but Intel continues the battle. Although there are significant advancements in technology, the average work week has actually increased to 50 hours. With the expensive capital expenditures in newer computer platforms, companies are expecting more from their employees to compensate for the investment in technology.
Portable computing devices, such as PDAs and Blackberrys, are losing popularity because executives were having difficulty drawing the line between work and home. Being able to answer emails immediately did not seem worth the loss of personal time and privacy. In addition, the stress of receiving emails during dinner time and on vacations led to an increase in work-related depression.
The expectations of the Internet bringing wide spread changes to the way of life did not materialise for many inter-related reasons. They are as follows:
- The economy took too long to come out of the recession, which started at the turn of the century. Corporations were not able to supply enough cash flow to facilitate the R&D required for technology. Investors grew weary of the growth potential of the technology firms, such as computer component manufacturers and application developers. This led to a shift of capital to more reputable companies in more stable industries, such as utilities and consumer goods.
- Large corporations that were searching for efficiencies started outsourcing many services to lower wage countries. Under pressure from lobby groups and labour unions, the government implemented policies to keep jobs in the westernised nations and mitigate the discrepancy between the social classes. This along with the privacy risk within emerging countries slowed the pace of technological advancement.
- Globalisation had taken its toll on society. Many nations put pressure on authorities to protect their cultural identity. There was continuous debate how to address this issue and the source of the problem, which could be attributed to many areas such as the World Wide Web, migration and inter-racial relations.
- Algorithms that are used in programming language reached their limits. Computer applications are not able to deal with the complexity to solve the problems that require human logical and reasoning. Computer code was not able to convert subjective variables in the programs, such as time and effect on humans. These situation circumstances are the grey areas that still require humans to use their judgment.
- Companies reduce their employees’ access to the Internet after analysing their productivity. The initial benefits of information availability did not outweigh the costs of personal use and constant distraction during work. This had a negative effect on e-commerce, because consumers were not online as much as anticipated. Although the product availability had increased substantially by 2015, the actual number of purchases experienced a gradual decline.
Another thing that has been growing at a nice pace for the last ten years, but without the extremes everyone seemed to expect back in 2005, is internet transactions. Both consumers and businesses have indeed increased their spending on goods through the internet; the total B2B e-commerce market is now at almost $4 trillion, while the consumer market has reached almost $500 billion.
This growth has come mostly from the increase in so-called web services, where applications are able to communicate directly with each other in areas such as inventory control, security checks and travel services. In short, these systems act as chains of interlinked services, such that if one system triggers an event to another system via an XML message, the receiving system treats the trigger according to its own rules. For instance, when Dell’s inventory levels of XRAM chips run below the re-order point, Dell’s SAP system orders a new shipment of chips from Samsung’s Taipei II plant automatically, and a report is made by a similar XML call to the Mozilla mail server.
The main reasons the growth has not been stronger, as it was expected to reach this level ten years ago by optimists in the early 2000’s, has mainly been security concerns and the social needs for interaction, especially in the B2C market. The security concerns were the main reason Microsoft lost its grip on the web browser software back in 2006, when Mozilla Firefox took over as the dominant browser. With a stronger focus on security, Firefox, originally released in 2004 as open-source software, gave users a solution to their fear of being cheated when buying goods on the internet. Firefox’s three-way verification and escrow service (in co-operation with PayPal) proved a very solid solution to most security issues regarding misuse of credit information. In addition, the stronger security focus from the major card companies such as Visa and MasterCard (with Visa's Verified by Visa iniative as the primer) also has helped the trend.
The social need for interaction has however acted as a balancing loop in the trend of increasing e-commerce. It has become more and more evident that human beings have a need for interaction also when it comes to e-commerce. Long believed to be negligible in importance, scientists were amazed to discover that the need to see, feel and negotiate products in real life was strong also with the younger generations. An issue that was raised by labor unions, job preservation through real life interaction was also a hot topic a few years back. However, it seems the social interaction patterns themselves were stronger than these arguments.
Another reason that was oft mentioned together with the two above ones, the issue of transparency and comparison between different offers has increasingly been solved by such software as Google’s PriceFinder. The PriceFinder allows the user to use Google’s familiar search language to make expression for searching the internet for similar offers and create a report with recommendations. Initially flawed, the recommendations are now reported to be of high quality, and users seem to enjoy using it.
The Internet did not change education patterns as anticipated. The applications developed did not have adequate learning content and did not show any improvement in the educational process. Although the Internet became a helpful tool in the pedagogical methods, it did not become a substitute for the traditional teaching approaches. The initial reasons for introducing the Internet in the classroom was the availability of scientific, medical, and historical information. The students were found to use the web for immoral activities, such as visiting pornographical sites and racial hate chat rooms. As of 2005, there were about 8 billion Web pages, which multiplied for many years. The Internet was considered a vast uncatalogued library. Search engines, such as Lycos and Infoseek, only focused on a small fraction of the net. Literature was found to be of low quality in terms of its literary value as only approximately 8% of journals and books were available on the Internet. In addition, the majority of the literature requires the user to subscribe for a ridiculous fee. The lack of control of the content and difficulty in policing the students are the main reasons why the Internet is not a significant instrument in the education system.
In terms of higher education, the online degrees programs, which had flourished in the last century, were not valued as much by corporations in the recruiting of staff. Most of the graduates of these programmes did not secure good positions, which had a negative impact on enrollment. By 2015, there are very few institutions offering e-learning and the traditional university in-class lectures are still the main source of a high quality post secondary education.
Effects of Emerging Countries on the Advancement of the Internet
Conflicts of interest between emerging and developed countries strain the advancement of the Internet. In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held by the Government of Tunisia resulted in breakdown between emerging countries, such as China, Brazil, and African countries, and developed countries, such as the U.S.A, European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan. The main area of disagreement was the issue of Internet governance. The emerging countries claim that political administration should be controlled by the intergovernmental organisation, International Telecommunication Union (ITU). But the US wants it under the jurisdiction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is a non-profit entity located in California. The developed nations claimed that private sector driven scheme should be continued because that is more efficient to organise, which was the main reason to tip the scales in their favour. Initially, the number of IP addresses increased in the emerging markets, but the political situation of the US hindered the full proliferation. The government uses its power to influence the ICANN to help with its agendas, which was in the best interest of American citizens. This came at a cost of the expansion of the Internet into China and India. From the ICANN’s inception many of the planned initiatives were abandoned, such as the Digital Joint Fund which was intended to cover cost of Internet infrastructure in emerging countries. The Generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management became a means of regulating the Internet in favour of developed countries’.
In 2015, as a result of the above conflict between emerging and developed countries, conventional media such as radio and TV remained as major providers of information in emerging countries. As a result, the Internet was more prevalent in the developed countries than that of the emerging nations.